Denver museum among first to distribute colorblind glasses to patrons
It is estimated that over 350 million people around the world suffer from colorblindness. While most museums made adjustments long ago to accommodate visitors with disabilities as outlined in the American Disabilities Act, the regulations don’t include colorblindness as a recognized disability.
Until recently, people who were unable to see the same spectrum of colors as others were simply unable to enjoy the full aesthetic experience. The Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver is one of a growing number of museums that recognized a need to improve the experience for colorblind visitors.
In early 2020, the MCA Denver announced that it would be the first museum in Colorado to offer EnChroma glasses to colorblind visitors.
How colorblind glasses work
EnChroma glasses add vibrancy to colors that may be lost for people that suffer from colorblindness. While the glasses don’t cure colorblindness, they are a simple way for individuals to experience art, nature, and everyday life to its most colorful potential.
Nora Burnett Abrams, MCA Denver’s Mark G. Falcone director , said the partnership with EnChroma allows every visitor to enjoy arts’ vibrant color. “We are thrilled to be participating in the EnChroma Color Accessibility Program,” she said. “This partnership is part of our continuous efforts to make our museum as accessible and welcoming to visitors as possible.”
An invitation to fully experience art
One MCA Denver visitor described the view with EnChroma glasses as “seeing in high definition versus regular television.” Another described it simply as “a truly beautiful experience.”
Calling the initiative “a great honor,” Abrams believes that the glasses will enable colorblind museum patrons and employees to experience art more fully. She says, “To see them see the world anew, it’s not a commonplace experience to have.”
When the colorblind visitors put on the glasses, they were silent, Abrams recalls. “I thought, ‘are they not working?’ In fact, they didn’t have a vocabulary yet to talk about red and green. There was no foundation from which to express what they were experiencing, just stunned facial expressions. Then they started to say, ‘Wow!’ To bear witness to that is not something we get to do all the time. I feel very proud.”
Other museums around the nation have launched similar initiatives, including the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe, the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.
EnChroma offers the glasses to organizations at a reduced (or often zero) cost. Thanks to the increasing accessibility of glasses, museum visitors can finally start to see the world through the same lens as everyone else.