Social integration of the blind can’t focus solely on functional accessibility but needs emotional inclusiveness as well. Many of the sighted still feel embarrassed or sorry when they see a blind person. But the Blind thank them, don’t need that sorry. Sorry only creates distance. These walls must be torn down. Social integration isn't necessary so that sighted people can have a relieved conscience but because we simply need each other – that’s why we live together in a society. The Beyond glasses act as a symbol: Seeing beyond prejudice and sorry. Seeing beyond the dark glasses. Beyond all these you will meet someone.
Beyond is a glasses collection for blind people. We started this project with the great help of the National Institute for the Blind in Hungary to torn down the walls between the Blind and the Sighted. The most difficult part of the design process was understanding the complexity of a blind person's situation and design communication in a sighted society. It is a common attitude of blind people that they don’t want anyone to feel sorry for them, they don’t want to show vulnerability or sadness of being blind, because it is simply not true. Most of them feel great, live a fully rich life and they have fully accepted their blindness – and this is what they want to communicate. It is also a common consensus between blind people that wearing sunglasses is useful in protecting their eyes against dust and other unforeseeable impacts.
However, people communicate being ok in great many different ways. As the sighted has many different types of attitude, the blind have as well. Someone is more extroverted and someone isn’t. Appearance and fashion is very important to some part of blind people, and it isn’t to others. For some people it may only be important in special situations like going to the theatre and it may not when they just go shopping nearby. We had to accept during the research phase that there is no universal way to express these positive feelings. In the same time for those to whom physical self expression is important and represent an extravagant character in life or just want to wear something special on a special event, it does make sense to create for them more expressive glasses than general sunglasses: glasses that only can be used blindly and therefore are designed by such freedom of form and material usage. Glasses that communicates freedom, extravagantness, and happiness.
Designers: Dorottya Féja, Zsófia Mező, Eszter Mátyás, Alberto Vasquez
Photo: Bálint Schneider