Being Colorblind Has Never Stopped Mr. Robrahn

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Being Colorblind Has Never Stopped Mr. Robrahn

Rita Nava-Orozco and Yadira Zamora

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Imagine not being able to see the leaves change in fall, or not being able to see the sunrise or sunset ever. Imagine your significant other laying out your clothing for you for the whole week each Sunday night. Imagine not being able to see color at all. Being colorblind is being unable to distinguish certain colors or any colors at all. Mr. Robrahn is colorblind.

Colorblindness is broken down into three different categories. The first is red-green deficiency. This color blindness is when there is difficulty distinguishing reds, greens, browns, and oranges. Often confusing blue and purple, blue-yellow colorblindness is when blue appears green and yellow appears violet or light grey. Then there is just those that don’t see any colors at all.

Color Blindness affects 3 million people. 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women are likely to have the deficiency. The X chromosome is what passes the gene.

Mr. Robrahn is completely colorblind and always has been. It all started when he was in the 3rd grade. “I remember coloring a tree and my classmates would tell me that it wasn’t the correct color,” he said.  

There was a time when his teachers thought Mr. Robrahn was mathematically challenged. In class, he was given an assignment sheet where students had to do  addition and when they got the answer, they would have to color it a certain color .“I would color it whatever color I wanted,” he said. This is when his mother realized that it wasn’t a learning difficulty, but an issue with interpreting colors.

And color challenges went beyond the classroom. “ Growing up I have always owned a white car,” he said. Driving is something that has been a challenge for him– especially during the night. “Once at Grand Haven I ran a red light because the lights were sideways,” he said.

Fortunately, he has a supportive family that helps him out while he drives. “I often times ask my son or my wife what color [the light is],” he said. Mr. Robrahn’s son also drives and takes him to places without having to worry about not being able to see what color the light is” especially blinking lights.” Blink lights often confuse him.

Continuing his life at Hope College, even though his parents were not physically with him they still made efforts to help him out as much as they could. “My mother would put sticky notes with numbers on my clothing,” he said. “It would be a numbered shirt with the same number pants so they can match.”

 Even now, at his job being the principal, he still has helped and not only from his wife. Mrs.Cross, his secretary, is his go to for help. “I often ask her if what I have on matches,” he said.

At Hope, Mr. Robrahn was required to take an art class. Art always involves the use of different colors and being able to be spontaneous with them. “At the end of the class I told my professor about me being colorblind,” he said. “At first, I didn’t want to say anything, but we ended up with a strong relationship with one another.” Today, Mr. Robrahn stays in contact with him.

Not everybody in his life was as kind as his professor. After college, he moved out with a couple of guys “ I would often ask them multiple times a day if what I had on was good and sometimes they would say yeah and I would go around not matching,” said Mr. Robrahn.

Mr. Robrahn once had a dream that he was able to see color. It was a one-time thing, and it was unclear why or how he saw it. “I saw a yellow spiral notebook,” he said. Since then yellow has been a color he wants to see.

When asked what he would like to see in color, Mr. Robrahn simply says, “I would like to see a sunrise…or a sunset and see what the people around me describe so much to me, like all the colors in them.”

When discussing his colorblindness Mr. Robrahn doesn’t hold back on letting others know “early into dating my wife I told her right away that I was colorblind”. His wife started to dig deeper into decreasing the effects or even finding information to help him see color “there was a surgery she mentioned, “I don’t want to spend time doing that when I can be doing other things.”

Just like everyone else he only visits the eye doctor once a year. Mr. Robrahn is very confident and comfortable being colorblind. “It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “What does bother me is when people ask what color something is because I don’t know.”

Being colorblind has not affected his vision to see far away or seeing close up. It is a known fact that being colorblind runs in the X chromosome genes. His brother is Red-Green colorblind. “It does happen and impacts how you see the world,” he said. “Some kids might not know how things match….be nice to everyone.”