By Mary Kate Sheppard, Staff Writer—
The colors of fall are starting to spread, and while many are privileged to experience the full spectrum that the vibrant Tennessee hills have to offer, there are some 13 million nationwide for whom those hues have always been muted—that is, until now.
Thankfully, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Tennessee State Parks have crafted a way for everyone to experience the great scenic beauty of the volunteer state at any time of year.
With the installation of over twelve colorblind viewfinders, now, those with red/green colorblindness can experience the distinct reds, oranges and yellows that make the autumn months unique.
Tennessee is the first place in the world to install such viewfinders for colorblind tourists.
The program began in 2017 and has since grown into something extraordinary.
Jill Kilgore is the public relations media manager for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
“Tennessee has some of the best and most vibrant fall colors in the world,” Kilgore said. “We wanted everyone to be able to experience it.”
The viewfinders use optical lens technology along with spectral lenses to show a wider range of colors. It allows those with red/green colorblindness to see colors like red, orange, yellow, and green.
The lenses are provided by the company EnChroma who use an innovative technology to alleviate color blindness.
In 2017, YouTube videos surfaced showing several colorblind people using the technology to see the full color spectrum for the first time. This is the same technology used for the viewers.
“There’s no way for us to track how many people use them, but we have heard such wonderful stories and dramatic experiences that we know it’s impacting so many people,” Kilgore said.
After a successful implementation of the viewing stations, Kilgore said that three other states, Florida, Georgia, and Orgeon, have reached out and asked how to install the colorblind viewers in their own state.
“Tennessee has such rich scenic beauty, we had to make sure more people knew about it,” she said.
There are currently twelve locations including: Cherohala Skyway — Lake View Overlook, Highway 111 — Sequatchie Valley Overlook, Sequatchie County, Veterans/Clinch Mountain Overlook, Fall Creek Falls State Park — Millikan’s Overlook, South Cumberland State Park — Laurel Gulf Overlook, Standing Stone Park — Tea Room, Ruby Falls — Blue Heron Overlook, Chickasaw State Park, Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park — Poplar Lake, I-26 Westbound Scenic Overlook, Unicoi County near Erwin, Ober Gatlinburg, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area — East Rim Overlook.