Blind for three minutes
What do I perceive solely through touch, hearing and smell? In the CBM Switzerland’s adventure mobile, which came to Luxembourg in autumn 2021, visitors had the chance to experience being without our most important sensory organ for a few minutes. How well or how badly do you orient yourself without being able to see? Such an experience can benefit everyone. Children and adolescents in particular were able to empathize with this serious visual impairment.
In the adventure mobile, visitors put on frosted glasses, and their vision is impaired to the same extent as in people who suffer from terminal cataracts. Wearing the glasses, they can only distinguish between light and dark; but have to move through a 12-metre-long corridor, which has numerous everyday obstacles. A terrifying experience? How does our brain deal with this? Can it switch to other sensory impressions, e.g. acoustically or by touching the environment? It was interesting to “see” how much visitors could discover in their tactile walk and what they could identify correctly or incorrectly. At the end, visitors went through the corridor again “seeing”. Then they could check for themselves what they recognized correctly and understand what it means to experience our surroundings with such a visual impairment.
The purpose of the mobile experience is to raise the public’s awareness of the plight of blind people, both here or in developing countries. It makes it clear that visually impaired people need support and adapted living and working conditions.
Cooperation with the “Centre pour le Développement des compétences relatives à la Vue (CDV)”
Thanks to the “Seeing” competence center (“Centre pour le Développement des compétences relatives à la Vue – CDV”), a state school and administration that supports the inclusion of pupils and people with visual impairment in school and at work in Luxembourg, a high standard of guaranteed support can be provided at all levels of life (school, leisure and work). The CBM Luxembourg Foundation can certainly learn a lot from the experience and expertise of the CDV in developing concepts for the best possible integration of the visually impaired, even in developing countries, even if more expensive methods are probably not applicable there.
Prevention at the national level is an important mission for the CDV. If the population is better informed, they also become more open to the needs of people with a visual impairment. More tolerance and empathy result in more inclusive behaviour in society. By imparting basic knowledge, functional visual restrictions are to be recognized more quickly and the people affected are to be given appropriate support more quickly. Preventive information and education campaigns are therefore part of the basic structure of the CVD. It is important that people know that they do not have to surrender to their visual impairment by fate, but that there are a variety of solutions and intervention options that ensure an inclusive lifestyle (pedagogical measures, aids, workplace design, lighting …).
A collaboration between the CBM Luxembourg Foundation and CVD is a win-win situation and we are delighted that the CDV was responsible for the tour of the CBM mobile experience through Luxembourg.