BlindNewWorld is going global.
The social change campaign, sponsored by Perkins School for the Blind, made its debut on the world stage this week at a major international conference in Orlando, Florida.
Before an audience of educators, advocates and experts from the worldwide blindness community, Perkins Board Chair Corinne Basler Grousbeck said it’s time to work together to break down barriers to inclusion for people who are blind in every nation.
“We have to link arms with peer organizations and individuals to create a voice loud enough to be heard,” she said. “Together we can create a kinder and more inclusive society.”
Grousbeck spoke at the joint general assembly of two of the world’s largest and most influential blindness organizations – the World Blind Union (WBU) and International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI). The two groups represent people who are blind in 190 countries around the world.
BlindNewWorld, which launched in May, works to demystify blindness and alter how society perceives individuals who are blind and visually impaired. Organizations around the world can use the campaign’s resources and messaging to help people with blindness be more accepted, Grousbeck said.
“Are you prepared to help make it a blind new world?” she asked. “Are you willing to join this movement to help push forth your own missions and better serve your constituents? Can you find a way to leverage BlindNewWorld to insure it has lasting potential to break down barriers and create meaningful change?”
BlindNewWorld includes an interactive website, robust social media outreach, videos that encourage people to re-examine their attitudes about blindness, and suggestions about how to welcome people who are blind into communities, workplaces and social situations.
Grousbeck was inspired to start BlindNewWorld by her son Campbell, 23, who is blind and a 2014 graduate of Perkins School for the Blind.
“I was given the gift of Campbell for a reason, so I can make a difference for him and people like him to have the same opportunities to live beautiful, meaningful lives like the rest of society,” she said. “I will not lose hope that the world can be a better place for people like Campbell. And I will not stop until it is.”
Other representatives from Perkins, including President and CEO Dave Power, also spoke at the WBU/ICEVI conference.
In his presentation, Power discussed the positive impact of technology on people with visual impairment. He said Perkins Solutions is developing a mobile app that will make it easier for users who are blind to locate public bus stops. Power also suggested that the emergence of autonomous vehicles has the greatest potential to transform the lives of people who are blind.
Perkins works with partners around the world through its global division, Perkins International, to improve educational opportunities for an estimated 46 million children and young adults with visual impairment. Perkins is also a founding member of both WBU and ICEVI.