Local library makes available glasses for people color blind

Published 4:45 pm Friday, September 22, 2023

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Editorial Director
The Elizabethton-Carter County Public Library is one of four libraries in the state to make available glasses for those who are color blind. A group called EnChroma has provided the glasses to the library. And, hopefully in the near future the glasses will be available at all Tennessee public libraries as a part of a statewide initiative.
Thursday afternoon, three persons – a nine-year-old boy and two adults – were among the first to try the glasses for red-green color blindness.
One of the three was Derek Franklin, nine years old, who lives locally and is home-schooled. Derek’s parents are Charlie and Cassie Franklin, who watched as their son tried on the glasses and immediately began to explore the surroundings outside the library on E Street. He was amazed to see the green grass and leaves on the tree outside the library. “Everything is green – the grass and trees,” he said.
Cassie Franklin said her son up until this year attended public schools. “The other kids made fun of him because he couldn’t distinguish colors. For example, he would color a pumpkin red rather than orange because he couldn’t distinguish between the colors. It was also an emotional experience for the family as this is something Derek has dealt with his entire life,” she said.
“This is really going to change things for him.”
Also receiving the glasses were Joe Penza, archivist at the local library, and Adam Collins of Watauga, formerly of Stoney Creek who is a supervisor at the A.G. Smith Plant (American Water Heater) in Johnson City. Collins received glasses that he can wear over his prescription lens glasses, and was excited to receive them Thursday since he was leaving Friday for a trip to Hawaii.
“It’s amazing. It’s incredible to see what I’ve been missing for 35 years,” added Collins.
Penza said the glasses make things more detailed, sharper. “Easter has always been the roughest part of the year for me, because I don’t see pastel colors…for pink, I see white, and for blue, I see black. When I was in school, I would color apples orange and pumpkins red.”
All three of the recipients will get to keep their glasses permanently.
Becca Dugger, cataloger at the Elizabethton-Carter County Public Library, said that according to the National Eye Institute, one in every 12 men experience some form of color blindness.
Dugger said the library will have four pairs of the glasses that can be checked out, and will be shared with other libraries in the region. The glasses will rotate to the Johnson City library next. To check out the glasses for a period of four weeks, patrons must have a library card.
“It’s very exciting for me to be able to give this gift of color to people in our community, and that we are among the first to have the glasses is even more exciting,” said Dugger.
She noted that ETSU purchased and donated the EnChroma glasses for red-green color blindness to the Tennessee State Library and Archive for color vision deficient members of the public to borrow through the nine regional libraries that support the state’s 186 public libraries.

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