Before Orientation Team (O-Team) training for New Student Orientation, students selected for the O-Team had a meet and greet to get to know each other. Each one told an interesting fact about themselves. When it came to Ryan Eskridge, a sophomore majoring in Chinese and economics, her fact was simple, but surprising: She is colorblind.
Her world began to change when Alex Bradley, a sophomore chemistry major who is also colorblind, received a life-changing gift from his friends this past summer. The gift was a pair of Enchroma sunglasses, which alleviate red-green colorblindness using “multinotch” filtering, which enhances specific colors by eliminating certain wavelengths of light.
“I had a birthday over the summer, and a lot of my friends in the theatre department decided to get together and pool some money and get these glasses, because I complained just about every day about being colorblind and they got annoyed,” Bradley said. “I am so grateful to them.”
Bradley’s glasses are for outdoor use only, but Enchroma makes pairs for indoor use, as well as for seeing color on monitor screens and phones.
Eskridge had known she was colorblind since she was little and always got the names of colors incorrect. Bradley, however, surprisingly did not find out he was colorblind until he took biology during his first year of high school.
“My teacher put up an Ishihara colorblind test, and he asked us what the number was. Everyone said nine, and I was like, ‘Nine?’ Everyone noticed me saying it late,” Bradley said. “Before that, I just thought that people were dumb for calling red a bright color.”
Bradley and Eskridge know each other through the Swing Bums dance club on campus, and Bradley lent the glasses to Eskridge one day during New Student Orientation. Many O-Teamers attended, and Eskridge’s mother came as well, to see her daughter look at colors in a new light.
“About 20 people were there, my mom and all of my friends came,” Eskridge said. “We met up at CSI, and he had me look at the building at first, and then I turned around and got to see all of the colors. I saw purple for the first time in my life, and multiple shades of green, so it was ridiculous. It’s not something I’d really thought about before.”
Danielle Trevino, a junior communication major, was one of the O-Teamers who was present for the life-changing moment. She spoke of how emotional it was for everyone.
“It’s really emotional, because hearing someone ask, ‘Is that what the color pink looks like?’ makes you realize you kind of take for granted your ableism in regards to sight and color,” Trevino said.
Bradley currently wears the glasses whenever he goes outside, and has had many moments of awe at taking in the colors he has been able to see.
“The day after I got the glasses, I was walking to upper campus from Prassel, and there’s a crepe myrtle tree right in front of Storch that has pink flowers,” Bradley said. “I just stood and stared at that tree for about 15 minutes, and was late to my meeting.”
As for the future, Eskridge would like a pair of the Enchroma glasses herself.
“Personally, I want them as a gift. I’ve told my friends and family that that’s what I want for my 20th birthday so that they know and can plan ahead,” Eskridge said.
Like the other O-Teamers and friends of Eskridge, Trevino was simply excited for her and happy that she was able to be there for a moment that she will never forget.
“O-Team is a lot of bonding from training through NSO, so you grow really close to them in a very short amount of time. Being able to share that with her was just really special,” Trevino said.