Saint Patrick’s Day was less than a week ago, and upon consultation with friends I realized that I don’t own any shades of green. My favorite green shirt was revealed to be a muddy brown, and the brown shirts I’d secretly hoped were green were revealed to still be brown. I remember painting the sky purple when I was younger, and my teacher asking if the sun was rising or setting. The sun was doing nothing of the sort. I didn’t spend too much time with crayons after that. I’m aware of my colorblindness, but haven’t yet built structures into my life to allow me to go undetected through this world of color.
Valspar, an international paint company based in Minneapolis, has partnered with EnChroma, a company working on glasses for the colorblind over the past several years, to bring color to all. Their promo video is startling–especially knowing that some of these people have the same physiological traits many people with color-blindness do. In the novel, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”, the protagonist will occasionally open a bucket of pink paint and look at it closely, because he feels that it calms him. I’ve never felt that connection to pink, which has always seemed a bright but still depressing grey.
The glasses made by Valspar and EnChroma are digital. They sense the light entering them and change to allow certain shades to enter, drastically shifting the colors of other shades. I’m not certain that the colors perceived through the glasses will be exact duplicates of color vision. However, the shift in perception–the new distinctness of color–will be startling. One has to wonder about the moral implications of telling people that the colors experienced by the users of this technology do those without color deficiency experience the same as the colors. How can a statement of internal perception be shown to be true or false?
Regardless, I am very excited to see the widespread use of these glasses. Valspar and their “Color For All” initiative, will be sending these glasses to museums across the country. It had never occurred to me that the art which I’m so familiar with might strike me differently if I could see the true colors of the composition. I hope to get to try these out within the next few years.
Individuals who are colorblind or are affected by color blindness are encouraged to share their own stories with #ColorForAll or at ValsparColorForAll.com.