State Park Viewers Help Colorblind People | News, Sports, Jobs

By Casey Warner

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

MARQUETTE – For those looking to experience the grandeur of nature, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the western Upper Peninsula – affectionately known as “pigs” – is the place to go.

With 60,000 acres of old-growth forest, roaring waterfalls, Lake Superior shoreline, rivers, trails and ridges, the park’s unparalleled vistas make Michigan’s largest state park a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

The Porkies’ sweeping views of natural attractions such as Lake of the Clouds and Summit Peak attract many visitors, but some people haven’t had the opportunity to see these sights as vibrant as others – until here.

In June, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Recreation unveiled specially adapted panoramic viewers at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park that provide color-blind people with a tool to experience the full spectrum for the first time. park colors.

The viewers, made by SeeCoast Manufacturing, have filters produced by EnChroma, a company that makes glasses for color blind people.

EnChroma’s specially designed lenses allow people with red-green color blindness to see colors more clearly, distinctly and more vibrantly.

The lenses contain optical filters that remove small slices of light, helping to compensate for excessive photopigment overlap in the eye and enhancing color vibrancy and saturation while aiding in discrimination, depth and color perception. colors for color blind people.

The company launched International Color Blindness Awareness Month in September, “to educate the world on the impact of color vision deficiency on people at work, in school and on the appreciation of art or the colors of nature”, said Erik Ritchie, CEO of EnChroma.

Missing some of nature’s true colors

One in 12 men and one in 200 women, or about 425,000 people in Michigan and 13 million in the United States, are color blind. While non-colorblind people see over a million hues and shades, colorblind people only see about 10%.

For people who are color blind, some colors are indistinguishable. For example, purple and blue look alike, red looks brown, pink looks gray, and green looks brownish or gray.

Many state and national parks, including 13 Tennessee state parks, have already offered EnChroma technology to help improve outdoor tourism experiences for color-blind visitors.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness National Park Superintendent Mike Knack learned of Tennessee’s efforts and thought visitors to the Porkies would benefit from similar technology.

“When I first heard about these viewers, I knew I had to get them for our park,” said Knack. “Really, the mission was to allow anyone who is color blind to see what anyone with normal eyesight and vision can see – the spectacular views of the Porkies in Western UP”

The addition of this new technology for people with color blindness is part of a larger effort to make the park accessible to visitors of all skill levels.

“The Porkies is such a special place, and we want everyone to enjoy it,” said Knack. “It’s just one more way to bring everyone into the park, and they can all enjoy and experience the park in the same way.”

Introducing new technology for color-blind visitors

The viewers were installed in the park’s three flagship attractions:

– Panoramic view of Lake of Clouds: Surrounded by the silhouettes of the Porcupine Mountains and overlooking thick forest, Lake of Clouds is the most photographed feature of the park and one of the most photographed in the entire Upper Peninsula.

– Summit Peak Observation Tower: The highest point in the park, at nearly 2,000 feet above sea level, this 50-foot tower offers spectacular views. On a clear day, visitors can see the Apostle Islands to the northwest and Isle Royale to the northeast.

– Nawadaha Falls: There is a viewing platform for guests to enjoy Nawadaha, one of three beautiful waterfalls on the Almost Isle River, located at the western end of the park.

The falls and the Lake of the Clouds Scenic Overlook have two viewers, one of which is at a height suitable for wheelchair users.

Friends of the Porkies, the park’s nonprofit support group, raised money to fund the purchase of the five accessible viewers. The total cost was approximately $17,000.

A group of three people use special glasses to correct color blindness in the Porcupine Mountains.

“I think this will open up a world of possibilities for visitors to the park,” Sally Berman, president of Friends of the Porkies, said. “The fall colors in the Porkies are definitely some of the best in the state of Michigan because we have such a mix of deciduous trees and evergreens – so we get golds, reds, oranges and burgundy mixed with this dark, dark green. Being able to experience the fall colors here is one of the highlights of the year.

Open the door to a more colorful world

During the viewer unveiling in June, three color-blind guests came to the Porkies to check them out. They also had the chance to try out EnChroma glasses which use the same technology as the viewers.

Justin Farley, a 43-year-old ranger at Porcupine Mountains State Wilderness Park, said he suffered from moderate color blindness and had trouble distinguishing boundaries when painting and tracking the blood of hunted animals, mostly on green grass. He said he hopes the EnChroma glasses will allow him to better track game when hunting and make it easier for him to distinguish colors when looking at trees.

“The colors are much more pronounced. Without the glasses, everything looks green. But with the glasses, the oaks and maples take on a certain green color. And also, pines and cedars are much darker green. It’s easier to differentiate colors with glasses. Farley said.

Joshua Smith, 43, is a hotel front desk worker and Marquette artist who said he was teased growing up when he couldn’t see colors properly.

“It makes it hard to find colors when I make art, because it’s hard to find the right color. I also have trouble looking at things that are color coded,” said Smith.

He hopes the EnChroma glasses will allow him “to see the colors that I miss. I’d love to find out how it will affect my art and see things that people often say are beautiful, like the Northern Lights, which I really don’t see much.

Patty Steinberg, 66, is a retiree from Crystal Falls who was diagnosed with color blindness in her twenties. She said she had always relied on a sibling or spouse to help her match her clothes and longed to see the vibrant colors of the outdoors.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park ranger Justin Farley looks through one of the park’s new viewers.

“If you’re colorblind and wondering what you missed, you should come look through the viewfinder and see what you missed.” said Steinberg. “It was awesome. I saw colors and hues that I had never seen before.

Berman said she was thrilled to see visitors using adaptive technology.

“When I heard the comments from these three people who were using the viewers and glasses for the first time, I had tears in my eyes. Tears of joy,” Berman said.

Build on MNR’s accessibility, equity and inclusion efforts

Specialty viewers aren’t just available at the Porkies. An EnChroma-enabled viewer was also recently installed on the Skyline Trail at Ludington State Park in Mason County, thanks to Friends of Ludington State Park.

Jim Gallie, superintendent of Ludington State Park, said the group of friends came to park staff with the idea after the organization’s president, Patrick O’Hare, heard about it during the top of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division Friends Group.

“He was surprised to learn of the prevalence of color blindness in the population and thought this would be a great addition to our accessibility improvements to the park,” said Gallie. “We chose to place it on the Skyline Trail because this location has such an expansive view to the south. In the future, we plan to place additional viewers at other locations in the park, such as along the Island Trail that overlooks Hamlin Lake.

Specialized viewers for color-blind visitors are part of DNR’s goal to expand accessibility, equity and inclusion.

“Over the years, through input from the department’s Accessibility Advisory Board, the passion and fundraising of local state park friend groups, and a commitment to improving existing facilities park planners and managers, the DNR has made significant strides in improving amenities and facilities for people of all abilities,” said Dan Lord, Acting Deputy Chief of MNR’s Finance and Operations Division.

Lord is also the executive sponsor of the Accessibility Advisory Council, which provides advice to help DNR develop, manage, and plan opportunities for those of all abilities to enjoy Michigan’s natural resources.

“The technology built into Ludington State Park and Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is allowing more people to experience the stunning colors of the natural resources that these two amazing sites have to offer,” he said.

For more information on the wide variety of accessible recreation opportunities DNR offers at state parks, campgrounds, boating access sites, state playgrounds, trails and more, visit

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