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Color-Blind Tourists See the Leaves in Tennessee


To help travelers with color blindness enjoy the leaves changing colors in the Great Smoky Mountains, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development has installed specially equipped viewfinders.

Travelers dealing with protanopia and protanomaly (more commonly known as red-green color blindness or red-blind) will now have the chance to see the autumn leaves changing with the help of viewfinders which utilize lenses that alleviate the red-green color deficiencies.

With more than 13 million Americans dealing with protanopia and protanomaly, officials in Tennessee are looking to showcase its beautiful fall splendor to a whole new group of travelers.

The first three sets of viewfinders were unveiled Wednesday at Ober Gatlinburg in Gatlinburg, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area near Oneida and at the Westbound Interstate 26 overlook near Erwin in Unicoi County.

“One of the main pillars we promote in Tennessee is our scenic beauty,” Department of Tourist Development commissioner Kevin Triplett said in a statement. “The reds, oranges and yellows in the fall and the incredible colors in the spring are a staple of what comes to mind when people think about Tennessee or visit here.”

“But to realize, through red/green deficiencies and other forms of colorblindness, there potentially are more than 13 million people in our country alone who cannot fully appreciate the beauty our state has to offer, we wanted to do something about that,” Triplett continued. “We wanted to provide opportunities for more people to see what those of us who may take for granted.”

As one of the most popular fall foliage travel destinations in the world, Tennessee will now be accessible to travelers like Jim Nichols (who is color vision deficient,) who can now see what his wife has seen each time the couple has traveled to the area in the fall.

When Nichols looked through the viewfinder the first time Wednesday to see the expanse of green, red, orange and gold leaves, he and his wife broke down in tears as he was able to see the beauty for the first time in his life.


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