In addition to patrons being able to borrow their favorite books at this Florida public library system, visitors can now lend out colorblind-corrective glasses for up to two weeks at a time.
The St. Johns County Public Library System (SJCPLS) announced earlier this week that they had partnered with EnChroma—inventors of eyewear for color blindness—in order to offer EnChroma glasses to colorblind patrons at all six of the library’s branches.
The purchase of the EnChroma glasses was funded by a generous $13,000 grant award from the nonprofit Barbara A. Kay Foundation, which will also fund the library’s new “Color Your World” program with free oil pastel classes available to all of their patrons.
“The St. Johns County Public Library System is in the forefront of supporting accessibility and eager to serve the many needs of our community,” said Library Director Debra Rhodes Gibson of St. Johns County Public Library System. “EnChroma glasses will allow those who cannot see colors as well or vibrantly to enjoy and experience color as much as everyone else does. We are grateful to the Barbara A. Kay Foundation for helping to bring color accessibility to the people of St. Johns County.”
One in 12 men and 1 in 200 women are color vision deficient, amounting to about 13 million in the United States and 350 million worldwide. With a population of over 250,000, St. Johns County, Florida, has an estimated 11,000 people with color vision deficiency.
Nearly two years ago, the Johnson County Public Library in Indiana became the first library system in the nation to provide access to EnChroma glasses to those with color vision deficiency—and they are now delighted that other libraries are following suit.
“Having EnChroma glasses as part of JCPL’s Library of Things has given some of our color blind patrons the opportunity to see color for the first time in their lives,” said Elyssa Everling, Adult Services Librarian, Trafalgar Branch, Johnson County Public Library.
“One of my favorite memories is of a patron who experienced the beauty of a rainbow the first time he tried them on,” she recalled. “We love connecting our patrons with color blindness to this potentially life-changing resource at all four of our libraries.”
EnChroma continues to lead in advocating for “color accessibility” with the launch of the EnChroma Color Accessibility Program.
The program helps public venues, schools, state parks, libraries, museums and other organizations purchase and loan EnChroma glasses to color blind students and guests to help make schoolwork that involves color, colorful exhibits, attractions and/or experiences accessible to the color blind.
Red-green color blindness is caused by an excessive overlap in the signals from red- and green-sensitive retinal cone cells in the eye, which causes colors that are normally seen as distinct and different to appear highly similar and confusing. Common color confusions include green and yellow, gray and pink, purple and blue, and red can appear brown. People with color vision deficiency are estimated to see about 10% of the one million shades that a person with normal color vision can see.
EnChroma glasses are engineered for the most common forms of red-green color blindness. The company’s patented lens technology is engineered with special optical filters to remove wavelengths of light where the red and green cones in the eye of the color blind overlap excessively. This enhances the separation between color channels to help them see colors more vibrantly, clearly and distinctly, helping them to overcome everyday obstacles and access more of life’s colorful experiences.
“EnChroma glasses enable those with color vision deficiency to experience the world in colorful ways they never thought possible, from the seemingly mundane to the life-changing,” said Andrew Schmeder, Co-founder and CEO of EnChroma. “We hope that more libraries will join St. Johns in making EnChroma glasses available to their constituents.”
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