Students help manager combat color blindness


SUBMITTED Ronnie Straub and some of his student-employees gather while admiring the vibrant colors outside Morrill Hall the day he received his glasses.

Jaci Pieters

Not everybody sees things the same, but for Ron Straub, color-vision glasses have helped him see the world and the world see him.

Straub, who is the information technology services manager at South Dakota State, has been colorblind his entire life.

His reaction upon receiving the glasses and finally seeing color was captured on video by his students. The footage garnered over 812,000 views on his personal YouTube page and was even published by Yahoo News and Metro, the highest circulating newspaper in the United Kingdom.

The rights to the video are currently owned by a media intelligence agency based in Dublin, Ireland called Storyful.

Last May some of Straub’s students pooled money together to gift him a pair of EnChroma glasses.

EnChroma glasses help resolve some of the brain’s confusion which causes color blindness.

“This looks like it’s glowing,” Straub said with excitement as he examined a piece of tissue paper after first putting on the glasses.

The colors instantly changed from “extremely dull” to “vibrant and bold,” he said.

Kaci Madsen, a sophomore nursing major and employee of Straub, first came up with the idea when she met him at the beginning of last year.

“He came into the desk one day and had us pick out his tie,” Madsen said.

That’s when she asked Straub if he’d heard of EnChroma. Although he had, he was skeptical of the glasses’s effectiveness.

Madsen convinced Straub to take a test to evaluate the severity of his condition. When the results came back, she shared them with the other student employees and they all decided to get Straub the glasses. Some of Straub’s friends and family combined
efforts with the students as well.

“I feel that sometimes we get so caught up with life that we take simple things, like the ability to see color, for granted,” Madsen said. “Our senses are such a gift to us and I feel so humbled that my coworkers and I could help Ron gain the ability to experience this world in a whole new light.”

Straub said he has a special connection with the students he works with and this gift shows it.

“The entire experience was extremely moving,” Madsen said.