You could have most likely seen one of many many viral movies: Somebody places on a pair of normal-looking glasses, they usually gasp, or break down in tears. Colorblind, for the primary time they’re seeing the vary of contrasts within the fall foliage, or the true colour of a cherished one’s eyes.
The expertise behind these revelations? Berkeley-based firm EnChroma, which makes glasses that enrich colour imaginative and prescient for the colorblind. Erik Ritchie is the corporate’s CEO, and he shares his imaginative and prescient for the way forward for seeing in colour.
Q: What’s colour blindness?
A: To an extent colour blindness is a misnomer. There are only a few people who find themselves really colorblind and solely see in grayscale. Most individuals have what we time period “colour imaginative and prescient deficiency.”
The attention has three cones that understand colour, they roughly equate to crimson, blue and inexperienced. The vast majority of people which are colorblind have red-green colour blindness, both the crimson or the inexperienced cone is poor.
For people who’ve colour imaginative and prescient deficiency, there may be an overlapping of colours. So greens look brown, reds look brown.
Q: How frequent is it?
A: It’s actually fairly prevalent. One in 12 males, and one in 200 ladies.
For somebody that’s younger and has colour imaginative and prescient deficiency, oftentimes what’s unlucky is they’re labeled as being sluggish learners. A lot of people don’t even notice they’re colorblind, generally till highschool or faculty. If it was recognized, they’d be capable of discover methods to accommodate it.
The final we checked, solely about 11 out of fifty states require testing for colour blindness.
Q: For people who find themselves colorblind, what different issues will be tough?
A: It impacts them in heaps and plenty of methods, each massive and small. In the event you begin with college age people, simply suppose, the whole lot at school is color-coded. From the groups, to the programs, to the video games, to the crayons, the whole lot is about colour.
When cooking, is that steak that you simply’re cooking uncooked, uncommon, medium?
Then in your work life there are displays, PowerPoints, numerous the supplies are colour coded.
I used to be really speaking to somebody who was making an attempt on the EnChroma glasses for the primary time. He was an audiophile, with numerous stereo tools. And he mentioned, ‘I can by no means inform in the event that they’re on or not, as a result of the lights are at all times on, it’s simply whether or not it’s inexperienced or crimson that tells me whether or not it’s on or off.’ There’s a lot data that’s simply type of misplaced.
Q: How is your organization addressing this accessibility concern?
A: We’ve glasses, and people glasses actually enable folks to see much more colour. Primarily, what they do is manipulate gentle coming via the lens, we pull these indicators aside, so it reduces that degree of confusion.
Along with the merchandise, we do quite a lot of advocacy via our Colour Accessibility Program.
Q: What’s the Colour Accessibility Program? What are some examples of labor this system has achieved?
A: We work with state parks, leisure venues, museums all world wide, to allow them to have the ability to mortgage out our glasses to colorblind people that come to their places. This enables these people to benefit from the artwork museum, the surroundings, with the ability to see extra colour.
Then past that, we additionally work at school techniques to have the ability to present loaner packages. And we do rather a lot round training. We create these side-by-side photographs that present what a standard colour imaginative and prescient particular person would see and what somebody who’s colorblind sees.
When dad and mom see it, it actually lands with them what their baby who’s colorblind goes via.
Q: You could have been with the corporate for nearly three years now. Are you able to discuss the way you’ve seen it develop and alter in that point?
A: We’ve expanded internationally, and we’ve come out with model new lenses. We maintain quite a few patents on this house, however because the dyes and chemical substances that we use to make the glasses advance, the precise lenses themselves advance, and we’ve been in a position to enhance the efficiency. Over a earlier technology lens, with the brand new lenses you rise up to 35% higher efficiency.
Then simply this yr, we’ve launched our model new colour blindness check. So the unique check is the Ishihara check that was constructed again in 1917. We’ve now developed a brand new check, that enables us to truly check every one of many three cones within the eye which are used to understand colour.
Q: Are you able to discuss the way forward for the corporate?
A: There’s rather more consciousness of the problem globally. There are 350 million folks worldwide who’re colorblind; 13 million simply within the U.S. So we’ve solely actually scratched the floor.
Proper now we’re engaged on options to enter contact lenses. And we’re engaged on options with lighting. And yearly we do our Colour Blindness Consciousness Month, and this yr there have been over 400 establishments world wide that had been collaborating.
We’re a enterprise. We’re right here to earn money, however on the identical time, and this can be a massive factor for me, I need to do one thing that does good on the planet. So even when somebody doesn’t use my glasses, if we’ve been in a position to change that college district to do issues that assist accommodate a colorblind particular person, that’s a win.
Q: You talked about an absence screening for colour blindness, and that your organization has created a brand new on-line check. The place can folks discover that?
A: We did a analysis examine a couple of years again and tried to determine what number of states really require testing in school age, and it was solely 11 out of the 50. So we predict that’s not good.
We expect it’s one thing that you simply actually have to be testing for at an early age. In order that’s one of many causes we initially created our colour blindness check. It’s on-line, we provide it without cost. Anybody can go browsing, take the check, determine whether or not somebody is colorblind or not.
It was once a paper-based check. So that you’d need to deliver a scholar in, put the guide in entrance of them, they’d need to undergo all of it, and it takes a very long time. Whereas with the web check, each system in that college is now able to offering that check.
And we’re very hopeful now that this yr the People with Disabilities Act, for the primary time has included colorblindness as a incapacity, for which organizations and colleges should now present lodging. This was just some months in the past, so it’s actually, actually new.
Age: 53Place: CEO at EnChromaSchooling: Mt. Nice Excessive Faculty in San JoseResidence: San RafaelHousehold: His spouse Rowena and their two bully-breed canine, Ocean and Poet
5 issues about Erik
1. Loves scuba diving and is an authorized dive master2. His colorblind brother-in-law helped him get into scuba diving3. Born and raised in East San Jose4. Little one of a Scottish immigrant father and a mom who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico5. Loves touring and has been to each continent besides Africa and Antarctica