Thursday, 13 Sep, 2007 Current Events

Blind People Help Sighted to Discover the Unseen


An exhibition called "Dialogue in the Dark 2007 Tokyo" started in Tokyo. The exhibition is very unusual. It is the place where sighted people are guided by blind people through several specially constructed darkened rooms. Thus sighted people are able to "discover the unseen".

This event has been held since 1999. Each year in Tokyo sighted people have the opportunity to discover the other side of life. About 25,000 people took the opportunity to "see" the darkness.

This year, the exhibition takes place at the building of the out-of-use Akasaka Elementary School in Minato-ku. "Dialogue in the Dark 2007 Tokyo" is presented here under the theme "Adventure after School." Those who visit the exhibition can feel as if they lose their way onto a school compound at night. Inside the defunct school it is completely dark. People cannot even see their own bodies.

The project under the name of Dialogue in the Dark was for the first time developed in 1989. It was based on an idea given by Dr. Andreas Heinecke, a social entrepreneur. He had the idea of making marginalized people a part of active society. About 2 million people around the world were able to undergo the experience.

Dialogue in the Dark Japan, TBS Radio & Communications, Inc. and the Akasaka branch of the Minato Ward Government were the one to organize the event.

In general the concept of the event is quite simple. Blind guides lead small groups of visitors through darkened rooms. Inside smells, sounds, wind, temperatures and textures are communicating the features of daily environments. Thus, for example, visitors can feel as though they are in a park, a city or a bar.

The dark transforms a daily routine into a new experience. Thus the roles reverse: sighted people say goodbye to their familiar environments while blind people offer them security, as well as a sense of orientation helping sight people to feel the world without images.

"Dialog in the Dark" showed a remarkable effect, being already presented in 17 countries throughout Europe, Asia and America.

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