More than 7 million blind people live in the U.S. Yet, more than half of Americans say they haven't seen a blind person recently.
How can that be? How can 7 million people go unnoticed?
Perkins School for the Blind has been preparing children and young adults with the education, confidence and tools they need to succeed for more than 185 years. But none of that matters if the sighted world is not ready for them. After two centuries of serving people who are blind, visually impaired or deafblind, Perkins has turned its attention to the sighted population – and launched an ambitious initiative to change the way the world sees.
#BlindNewWorld is the first-ever blind awareness social change campaign that aims to demystify blindness and break down the barriers to inclusion – discomfort, pity, fear and stigma. Launched in May 2016, BlindNewWorld's goal is to make the blind community visible and dispel the myths that prevent the sighted world from interacting comfortably with blind individuals.
Using provocative PSA mini films, new statistics on public attitudes, compelling stories and social dialogue, BlindNewWorld draws attention to the emotional and physical obstacles that lead to marginalization and/or exclusion of the visually impaired population. It seeks to educate and inspire the sighted population to open its eyes to the vast social, professional and academic capabilities of the blind – to see blind people for who they really are, and create a kinder, more inclusive world.
Nearly two centuries of working with blind kids and young adults had taught us that the world is uncomfortable with blindness. But how uncomfortable? In preparation for BlindNewWorld, we conducted a national study to gain insight into how sighted people view individuals who are blind, and to better understand if and how those perceptions (or misperceptions) are forming barriers to societal inclusion for the blind population.
The results were staggering. Ultimately, four main barriers to inclusion: discomfort, stigma, pity and fear, prevent the sighted from understanding what blind people are truly capable of when it comes to personal interaction. In addition, the lack of interaction between sighted and blind people fosters misperceptions that perpetuate marginalization. You can read the full report in our ebook: America's Blind Spot.
Using this research and statistics as a backdrop, we unveiled BlindNewWorld in May 2016 at Perkins' annual Gala to a crowd of nearly 500. It took off in the social media world, with over 15 million social impressions within the first week. The campaign's reach has continued to grow through a number of strategic elements, including:
Since the launch in May 2016: