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"Beyond Seeing": my experience at the preparatory visit

"Beyond Seeing": my experience at the preparatory visit

by Selma

On 25th and 26th October I participated in the preparatory visit of "Beyond seeing - Innover le design de mode sans les yeux", a project organized by Goethe Institut de Paris. The participating countries were Belgium, France, Germany and Sweden, and the project mainly focused on fashion design for visually impaired people. Nonetheless, people with visual problems (me included) were definitely a minority: only 8 (2 per country) out of more than 30 participants, most of whom were sighted design students.

The idea itself is quite interesting: finding a way to enable blind people to perceive colours, patterns and other visual elements, usually perceived through sight. It was only a 2-day preparatory visit though, so of course we couldn't find the answer yet; we're therefore looking forward to the next meetings to study the subject more in depth.

The goal of these first days was mainly to explain, through movies and speeches, what being blind is really about. I particularly loved the movie, as it showed various examples of blind people's lives, giving us interesting and sometimes new perspectives. Personally, I'd like to watch it again and I recommend it to everybody!

When it came to discussing design, a lot of questions were asked, such as: "Is it possible to create without seeing?". For me, the answer is obvious: of course it is! I would understand the question if we were only talking about matching colours etc.; but "creating" is such an encompassing concept, that I really don't believe it can only be achieved with the aid of sight. There was a different question in my head though: how can I imagine Paris, if I always stay in the same building? We spent a lot of time discussing and trying to really understand the importance of perceiving through the other senses. And I believe it was the right approach: in order to embark on our journey, we first needed to find the best route!

All in all, it was a very interesting experience for me, and I would like to thank VIEWS and Goethe Institut de Paris for giving me the opportunity to participate.