North Dakota’s Parks and Recreation Department (NDPRD) announced that it has become the first park system in the country to support “color accessibility” for color blind visitors at all of its parks via a collaboration with ENCHROMA, creators of glasses for color blindness. Each park will receive a “kit” of EnChroma glasses for red-green color blind guests to borrow during visits to enjoy North Dakota’s colorful beauty. In addition, next summer Lewis and Clark State Park will install two SeeCoast viewfinders adapted with special EnChroma lenses for color blindness.

“We’re incredibly excited that our visitors with colorblindness can now experience the full beauty of our parks,” says North Dakota Parks and Recreation director Cody Schulz. “Providing the EnChroma glasses is another part of our continuous efforts to make our state parks as accessible and welcoming as possible to everyone.”

The program launched on Oct. 4 at the Visitors Center at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park near Bismarck, N.D. The color blind participants included two young color blind brothers, aged 5 and 9, and their color blind grandfather, a color blind firefighter, and a color blind retiree.

One in 12 men and one in 200 women have color vision deficiency with an estimated 13 million in the U.S., 350 million worldwide and roughly 33,150 in North Dakota, according to EnChroma. Last year, the state welcomed 22 million visitors, an estimated 935,000 of whom were color blind, the North Dakota’s Parks and Recreation Department said in a statement.

EnChroma is the lead advocate for “color accessibility” through its EnChroma Color Accessibility Program. The program helps over 400 schools, universities, state and national parks, libraries, museums and other organizations purchase and loan EnChroma glasses to color blind students and guests. Through partnerships with leading vendors, scenic viewers adapted for the color blind with EnChroma lenses are also available. EnChroma glasses and/or viewers for color blindness are now offered at over 50 state and national parks across 20 states.

While people with normal color vision see over one million shades of color, the color blind only sees an estimated 10 percent of hues and shades. As a result, colors can appear dull, indistinct and difficult to discern, with red appearing brown; green seemingly gray, tan or yellow; pink looking gray; and purple the same as blue.

“With everything from colorful wooded valleys and rolling hills to lakes, rivers, and the rugged Badlands, North Dakota Parks offer an array of rich and rewarding adventures to visitors,” says Erik Ritchie, CEO of EnChroma. “Now that North Dakota is the first state in the U.S. to offer EnChroma glasses at all parks, those adventures will be even richer, more accessible and more colorful for color blind visitors.”

EnChroma’s color blindness awareness programs with major geographic, cultural and art institutions were featured at the 2023 Vision Monday Leadership Summit.

–Andrew Karp