Audio: Building Empathy for the Visually Impaired Community

Visually Impaired Designer sitting at her desk with headphones on listening to the audio clip.
Angela sitting at her desk with headphones on listening to the audio clip.
An audio clip of three based on true stories of visually impaired individuals.

Building Empathy for the Visually Impaired Community

This was a special project for me to work on, it was created for my Experimental Storytelling graduate class at the University of Washington with Professor Annabelle Gould.
Our class was fairly small with about 10-15 students and in the class, we spent just shy of the whole quarter on one project and everyone was able to decide what medium and topic to choose.
It was a very opened ended class where we could experiment with whatever we were interested in.
This class was spring quarter of my first year of graduate school so I was in the process of solidifying what direction I was going to take my thesis project for my full second year of grad school.

Before beginning graduate school I knew I wanted to focus on the crossover of visual impairment and design
and how those with disabilities are considered throughout the design process.
And this project was one of my first opportunities to explore different avenues and mediums to get my message out.
With my own mild visual impairment, I consider myself to be connected to both the sighted and visually impaired communities.

One of the things I really wanted to focus on helping these two communities better understand one another because the fact is both are misunderstood by the other.
So after talking to several individuals in the visually impaired community, I found there were so many stories that could really help sighted individuals see some of the daily struggles that come with being visually impaired.

This project does not try to help sighted individuals experience or fully empathize with the visually impaired community but it is a good starting point for conversation.

So for this project, I chose to do an all audio recording to make it accessible to those within the visually impaired community as well.
I recognize this might limit those within the deaf community but I hope to find a method to make it accessible to them in the near future and provide closed captioning.
Instead of having a narrator to give background on the story, I wanted to use background sounds which we all hear to help us recognize a certain situation.
This project includes a combination of three unique stories based on three visually impaired individuals’ experiences.
These things have really happened to people and were embarrassing and difficult to explain to someone at that moment.
I hope you enjoy the audio and are able to build a little bit of empathy for individuals of the visually impaired community.
This project is just one small glimpse into the struggles but also shows it is okay to find humor in uncomfortable situations and learn from them.
Most importantly everyone as challenges and they don’t have to define who we are!