Colorblind videographer surprised on air with color-corrective glasses

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A Neumann University student videographer was surprised during a live newscast with color-corrective glasses purchased by his classmates. (Courtesy of Neumann Media)

A Neumann University student videographer was surprised during a live newscast with color-corrective glasses purchased by his classmates. (Courtesy of Neumann Media)

More than 16 million Americans have Deutan colorblindness, a form of red/green colorblindness. For Jake Loburak, a student videographer at Neumann University, his colorblindness affects his ability to color-correct videos, see the colors on a stoplight, even how he dresses.

Growing up, he used to have his mom make sure his clothes matched before leaving the house.

“Before I left for college, I went through my clothes and said, ‘Hey, Mom, what color are these jeans? What shirt can I wear with this? What shirt can I wear with that?”

His condition requires somebody to double-check his work while color-correcting video, which slows down everything. Acutely aware of the irony of editing videos without being able to properly discern colors, he jokes about his colorblindness.  That’s how he made friends with fellow student videographer Sean Spence.

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Spence, along with Neumann Media director Sean McDonald, came up with the idea of raising money to buy Loburak a pair of color-corrective EnChroma glasses. They gathered money from other members of Neumann Media and decided they would surprise Jake with the glasses during a live taping of their weekly news roundup show, “Neumann Update.”

“We didn’t have a script in like 10 minutes before the shoot or before we were supposed to go live,” Spence said. “If we had put it in, he would’ve seen it and would’ve known what was going on. We kind of left him in the dark, and I can tell he was stressed out because he thought we had nothing.”

Loburak had no idea what was about to happen, and at first thought it was a joke.

“They brought them out, and I put the glasses on, and it was just amazing,” he said.

After receiving the glasses, Loburak and Spence had the idea to turn the moment into a 90-second video, which has since made Jake a bit of a folk figure on campus. He has been recognized walking to class on numerous occasions.

“This random girl comes up to me as I’m walking to class, and she says, ‘Hey, you’re colorblind, right?’ To which I said, ‘Yeah, how the heck did you know that?’ She recognized me from the video!”

Loburak said he was struck by the kindness of the gesture since at the time he was in his first semester.

The clip has since been nominated for a nationally recognized Best Feature News Reporting award from College Broadcasters Inc.

While Spence and Loburak are thrilled at the prospect of winning the award, Loburak said his biggest takeaway from the experience is how the glasses have helped make his life easier.

“When I got the glasses, I remember I told my mom, I said, ‘Mom, look, I dressed myself today with the glasses on.’ And, so, it’s something that might be a subtle thing for some people, but to me, it makes a difference.”

The winner of the award will be announced at College Broadcasters’ National Student Production Awards on Nov. 2.

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