Mississippi State University to Assist Colorblind Students with EnChroma Glasses for Color Blindness

STARKVILLE, MS & BERKELEY, CA March 28, 2023 Distinguishing red and green traffic lights. Determining the correct orientation of a drone from color cues and markings. Discerning color-coded topography lines on maps. These are just some ways color blindness not only affects more than 350 million individuals globally, but an estimated 1,200 of the nearly 28,000 Mississippi State University students, faculty and staff across every discipline who are Color Vision Deficient (CVD).

Mississippi State faculty in the plant and soil sciences and geosciences departments today announced a partnership with EnChroma, makers of specially engineered glasses that can alleviate these frustrations and obstacles to learning and support the needs of red-green colorblind students.

Amelia Fox, assistant clinical professor of plant and soil sciences, searched for assistance from various department faculty members and was ultimately joined by Renee Clary, a professor in geosciences, due to their desire to address colorblindness in the classroom and their shared passion for assisting colorblind students.

“We are both deeply entrenched in teaching and value student success, so we couldn’t go forward with our teaching as-is if any student has a solvable issue that hinders their ability to  achieve to their full potential,” Fox said. Together they gathered support to make EnChroma glasses for color blindness available for CVD students and staff to borrow on campus.

fall colors

Click here for more images depicting how color blind students and staff at MSU see campus and schoolwork.

While the EnChroma glasses do not restore one’s color vision to normal, they do enable red-green color blind students in any discipline to see an expanded range of color more clearly and better discern differences in colors. Within the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, the glasses will help color blind students orientate drones which relies partly on recognizing colorful markings and colors on maps and screens properly sense the correct flight sequences and wire aircrafts to fly. Within the Department of Geosciences, the glasses will help students see the differentiation in colored topography lines on maps, landscape coloration and volcanic rock classification. 

Both Fox and Clary have prior experience with colorblind students and individuals throughout their lives. Clary said by closely working with a graduate student who was colorblind she was able to see the benefits of the EnChroma glasses firsthand.

“When Dr. Fox reached out to me, I knew it was an important area we needed to address,” Clary said. “We need to accommodate our color blind students so we can optimize their learning.”

EnChroma, based in Berkeley, California, will provide the glasses for Mississippi State students. 

The glasses, for indoor and outdoor use, will be available for all color blind MSU students and staff to borrow from the main campus library or from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Fox arranged for the purchase of the glasses via EnChroma’s Color Accessibility Program, through which over 200 organizations loan the glasses to color blind students and guests at over 80 museums, 25 libraries, 25 K-12 schools and 13 state and national park systems. MSU joins 15 other universities in the EnChroma program such as Boston University, North Carolina State University, the University of Hamburg and Alfred University.

The EnChroma glasses support the two most common types of red-green color blindness: protan and deutan. Protan color blindness is when individuals do not perceive enough red color; while deutan color blindness is the result of not perceiving enough green.

Fox said she is confident that the glasses will provide a better academic experience for colorblind students.

“As teachers, we can fill in the gaps of our students through empathy and simple tools, such as these glasses,” Fox said. “A saying goes ‘if you only have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.’ But you need many tools in your toolbox if you’re going to teach different students.”

For more on the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, within the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, visit www.pss.msstate.edu. For more on the Department of Geosciences, within the College of Arts & Sciences, visit www.geosciences.msstate.edu.

For more on EnChroma, the effects of color blindness, its glasses or the Color Accessibility Program, visit www.enchroma.com or email accessibility@enchroma.com.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu. 

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Kent Streeb
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