Viewfinders unveil fall colors for the colorblind
Viewfinders unveil fall colors for the colorblind This Oct. 26, 2017 photo shows Amber McCarter, a 22-year-old from Tennessee who is colorblind, looking out from Mt. Harrison at the Ober Gatlinburg resort through a viewfinder designed to help see more colors. (AP Photo/Jonathan Matisse/Flickr)
Viewfinders unveil fall colors for the colorblind
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Even when the rugged expanses of the Great Smoky Mountains were bursting with their famous fall colors, they always looked dull black and tawny to Lauren Van Lew from the 3,590-foot-high (1,090-meter) perch of Mt. Harrison.

For the 20-year-old Van Lew, who has been colorblind her whole life, some colors have just been left to the imagination. She loves painting, but her wife Molly has to help her pick and mix colors.

Last week, however, when Van Lew visited the scenic mountaintop again and looked through a special viewfinder, for the first time she saw yellows, oranges and reds exploding across the landscape.

"Red was the biggest difference. I mean, I can't describe it," said Van Lew, who lives in Sevierville, Tennessee. "It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life. That red, it's just gorgeous. It's incredible."

She wondered, "How do you see like that all of the time?"

The colorblind viewfinder installed atop the Ober Gatlinburg resort by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development is one of three in the state that debuted last Wednesday, letting people gaze upon colors that they may have never seen before. The other two viewfinders are at scenic areas of Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area near Oneida, and at the westbound Interstate 26 overlook near Erwin in Unicoi County.

Although the technology isn't new - eyeglasses that let colorblind people see colors are already available - state officials believe this is the first time it's been incorporated into a viewfinder, at a cost of $2,000 apiece, to help people with red-green color deficiencies. How crisply the viewfinders display new colors can vary from person to person among the 13 million or so people in the country with color deficiencies.

State tourism officials invited people to try it out last Thursday at Ober Gatlinburg, bringing them up by ski-lift, but leaving the details somewhat vague to maintain the element of surprise. A crew filmed their reactions for marketing material.

Their first glimpses drew tears, smiles and faces stunned by wonder and awe.

"My heart just started beating fast," said Todd Heil, who generally sees a lot of green. "I felt like crying, man. Too many people around."

Amber McCarter works in real estate, so part of her pitch is the fall foliage that drapes the Great Smoky Mountains, even though she can't entirely see it herself. The viewfinder gave her a firsthand look of the views she's been selling.

"It's like, if you want to go see a show somewhere, you don't want to hear from somebody whose family went. You want to hear from somebody who actually went," the 22-year-old said.

For Van Lew, nothing looks the same now. It can be a little disheartening to know what she's been missing, but the possibility of tapping into a long unseen world of vibrant color is uplifting, she added.

"It's going to enable more people to experience the beauty that we live in, that I didn't know we lived in," she said.

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Why are leaves a good subject for viewfinder?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • jamiyac-cel
    11/07/2017 - 12:17 p.m.

    During the fall, viewfinders for the outside environment would be most beneficiary for color blind people because of the variation of fall leaf colors such as red,yellow, orange, green or burgundy.

  • RyleeN-lam
    10/26/2018 - 01:29 p.m.

    Leaves are a good subject because in the fall they're very pretty and people who are colorblind should get to see them. Plus leaves are a good subject because they turn lots of colors like green, yellow, red, orange.

  • DylanL-dec
    11/07/2018 - 10:47 a.m.

    I'm glad that so many people that are colorblind are able to see colour now. (good vibes)

  • AshlynR-lam
    11/07/2019 - 10:44 a.m.

    This passage explains the un-known struggle of color blind people and what they're truly missing out on. This passage examples peoples awed reactions to when they saw color for the first time! It shows how most people take a simple thing as just color for granted. And it shows how incredibly technology has improved and grown.

  • PargolL-lam
    11/07/2019 - 11:27 a.m.

    This Article is very heartwarming to know that a color-blind human can finally see colors. It is very hard not to notice colors and when Van Lew said, "It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life. That red, it's just gorgeous. It's incredible." "How do you see like that all of the time?" I think this article is great to show people helping others to enjoy life is kind. And we want the world to be a better place so good job!

  • Chaseh-pla
    2/10/2021 - 03:55 p.m.

    Throughout this article, the author did a great job allowing you to visualize what was going on as if you were there as well as how Lauren felt when she saw color for the first time. This is a very significant moment in Lauren’s life considering she has spent all this time not knowing the true colors of anything around her. However, the discovering of this new viewfinder may be the start of something to try to treat those who are color blind. Color blindness is quite prevalent in our society today, so if these new viewfinders are allowing those affected by colorblindness to finally see color, those affected are in for quite the surprise. In the end, with the implementation of these viewfinders as places such as state parks, national forests, etc. the individuals who have been forced to see the wrong colors their whole life, will finally be able to experience the true experience the presence of true colors brings.

  • CalebY-pla
    9/22/2021 - 05:13 p.m.

    This article was about special viewfinders that can help people see color. People who could see the fall colors for the first time were extremely happy upon seeing what they were previously missing. I think this is a great invention and, though it is scarce now, should be far more abundant in the future. Most people take colors for granted, but for those who are colorblind, this is so moving for them since they have not been able to see fall colors (like in this article) ever in their life. This is why these special viewfinders should be in more parks to help people see what they have been missing.

  • EllieP-pla
    9/22/2021 - 10:13 p.m.

    Colorblind viewfinders have been placed in three different parks as fall approaches in Tennessee. As one of the first viewfinders with this built-in technology, state officials invited many colorblind people to experience fall scenery for the first time. The reactions will forever be ingrained into many's minds, and the government contribution only adds to the compassion shown by these parks and lookouts. I can relate this to civic engagement because there is a multitude of people who simply aren't able to experience and discover as much as others in our society. State and government officials recongnizing that line and developing ways to let experiences happen portrays engagement and collaboration with the community.

  • JonahZ-pla
    9/23/2021 - 12:20 p.m.

    Three viewfinders that are meant for color blind people were installed last Wednesday in State Parks in Tennesee. These viewfinders help people with color blindness to see all of the fall colors so they aren't missing out on amazing sites. Two people that were interviewed said they have experienced nothing like it and one wanted to cry. The National Parks are engaging in civic engagement by making these viewfinders.

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