Glasses for color blindness donated to New London School District

Published: Jan. 29, 2021 at 5:18 PM CST
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NEW LONDON, Wis. (WBAY) - A recent donation to the New London School District is helping some students see more clearly.

The glasses some kids are now using give them a whole new perspective. They have special optical filters that help people with color blindness or color vision deficiency (CVD) see colors more clearly and distinctly.

“On like a [color] test over there, if it was red and green I couldn’t see it really well,” said middle school student Braxton Bryant, who has color blindness. “Now I can see it now a little bit better and it makes the colors pop more.”

“Happy. I was happy when I could see these colors different again,” said elementary student Ethan Griffin.

Ethan’s parents started noticing his eyesight issue when he was in kindergarten and got his color blindness confirmed by a doctor. But it wasn’t until the school district got the corrective glasses that his parents could truly understand what a difference they can make.

“It didn’t hit until he tried them on,” said Whitney Griffin, Ethan’s mom. “We’re going down the road and he’s ‘Mom, that’s a yellow school bus, that’s a green sign’ I mean, I was crying the whole time cause you just, we’d never had a conversation like that before because I didn’t know how it was.”

Gloria Mihna provided that eye-opening experience. She spent thousands of dollars donating the glasses to the school district after learning about color vision deficiency and how it can affect young students.

“It could change their lives, and change their careers, and how they live and I just thought those kids need to have that ability and that choice on their own,” said Mihna. “[The district] knew that there were kids at school that were having troubles because they couldn’t see colors and hopefully, now that they have the glasses and they’re using them, that it’s helping improve their grades.”

‘You’ve got students going through who don’t know they’re color blind, don’t know why they struggle with certain tasks that involve color, their teachers aren’t aware they’re color blind and their parents aren’t aware typically,” said Kent Streeb.

Streeb is the public relations director at EnChroma, the company that worked with Mihna to supply the glasses through its color accessibility program.

He says one in eight men and one in 200 women have color blindness, which is 13 million in the U.S. and 350 million worldwide. He adds people with normal color vision see over one million different hues and shades of color while the color blind only see about ten percent of that.

“This can be a challenge for those students because so much information in school is visual and so much of it is color coded,” said Streeb. “If you can’t identify or correctly interpret certain colors on a PowerPoint presentation, in a graph in a social studies map, it can be a struggle for them to, you know, correctly understand certain schoolwork.”

Streeb says only 11 states have schools test for color blindness or CVD. Wisconsin does not test. But he hopes to see more schools change that.

“Awareness is really important because most people do not realize how common color blindness is,” said Streeb. " A lot of times, somebody will reach out and say I’d like to buy glasses for our color blind students. When you do the math, and four and a quarter percent are colorblind, they’re really quite stunned that there are way more colorblind students in their school system than they fathomed.”

New London has seven schools and 2,284 students which mean there are likely about 100 color blind students: 91 boys and 6 girls.

The district, with EnChroma’s help, will now test students for CVD at the beginning of each school year, a test EnChroma provides on its own website as well. Streeb encourages schools and parents to use it.

“It takes about a minute and a half to take and start identifying some of those color blind students, and making accommodations for them,” said Streeb. “Either through our glasses or by adapting the colors that are used on standardized tests and other materials to try to better support them and their needs.”

Mihna ultimately donated 16 pairs of glasses to the school district.

“Hopefully, you know, it’ll give them a better future and make them more in sure of themselves, confident because they now can see everything like their friends can,” said Mihna.

There are different sizes to accommodate the different student ages, some are specifically for the outdoors, and others are able to fit over prescription glasses.

Her donation even inspired others to make a donation of their own.

“[Debra Radmer] stepped forward and she called me and asked me about it, and she stepped forward to the school and she donated six pairs of glasses,” said Mihna.

“We’ve already had a gentleman in New Mexico, who saw the story, and who is now buying glasses for the school district in which he lives,” said Streeb, who says they shared about her donation on the company’s website.

Mihna hopes to see that goodwill spread to even more districts to help more kids.

“I’m only one person, but I’m helping 16 children see color,” said Mihna. “Maybe there is another project you could do that could help a child, even one.”

To take EnChroma’s color blind test CLICK HERE.

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