NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Millions of travelers flock to Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains each autumn to catch a glimpse of the leaves changing from deep green to brilliant red, orange and gold. But not everyone is able to fully enjoy the effect of nature’s beautiful transition due to color blindness.
To aid travelers afflicted byprotanopia and protanomaly (more commonly known as red-green color blindness or red-blind), the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development installed specially equipped viewfinders featuring the latest technology lenses for alleviating red-green color deficiencies.
With the colorblind-less viewfinders, the state hopes to showcase the beautiful fall splendor to some of the more than 13 million Americans who have protanopia and protanomaly. (Results may vary by individual.) The premiere launch of the viewfinders takes place Nov. 1 at Ober Gatlinburg in Gatlinburg, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area near Oneida, and at the Westbound Interstate 26 overlook near Erwin in Unicoi County.
The viewfinders will enable color blind visitors to “see” the vibrant fall foliage in all its glory in Tennessee, one of the most popular fall foliage travel destinations in the world. Before her husband stepped up to the viewfinder, the wife of Jim Nichols said “I see the colors and they’re florescent and beautiful and great, and I’ll say (to Jim) ‘honey see that?’ and he’ll say ‘What?’ I wish he could see what I see.”
Both Nichols (who is color vision deficient) and his wife couldn’t hold back tears as he looked through the viewfinder to see the scenic beauty of the fall colors for the very first time in his life.
“One of the main pillars we promote in Tennessee is our scenic beauty,” said Commissioner Kevin Triplett, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
“The reds, oranges and yellows in the fall and the incredible colors in the spring are a staple of what comes to mind when people think about Tennessee or visit here. But to realize, through red/green deficiencies and other forms of colorblindness, there potentially are more than 13 million people in our country alone who cannot fully appreciate the beauty our state has to offer, we wanted to do something about that. We wanted to provide opportunities for more people to see what those of us who can may take for granted.”
About the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development
Tennessee is the birthplace of the blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, soul, rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll-delivering an unparalleled experience of beauty, history and family adventure, infused with music that creates a vacation that is “The Soundtrack of America: Made in Tennessee.” Tennessee’s tourism industry generates $19.3 billion in economic impact, more than $1.7 billion in state and local tax revenue and more than 176,500 tourism-related jobs.