The name Andreas Heinecke might not mean much to you – yet – but he is the man behind a global movement that has revolutionised the way we perceive blindness and the world around us.
Dialogue in the Dark is an immersive experience which has appeared in 39 countries over nearly two decades. Instead of trying to “fix” blindness or help people who are blind see, since 1998 its mission has been to darken the world for visual people and thus awaken the other senses. As the creator of Dialogue in the Dark, Heinecke has revealed how rich, exciting and navigable life is when our reliance on sight isn’t overriding the world of stimulus we normally tune out.
In late 2016, Melbourne hosted Andreas Heinecke while he sought out locations for the next Dialogue in the Dark experience. Guide Dogs Victoria showed him around town.
Surprisingly, he was seeking out a familiar place that Melburnians would be able to rediscover with “fresh eyes”, so to speak. If we can imagine Flinders Street Station or a big game at the MCG with our eyes shut, we have a tantalising glimpse at what the Melbourne Dialogue in the Dark program could bring in 2017.
While here, Heinecke took the opportunity to discuss the transformative influence Dialogue will have on our city. He personally introduced the concept of DiD to people who are blind who will have the chance to be employed as hosts. Their role is leading guests through the exhibit, facilitating their experience so they emerge with a new, improved appreciation of diversity and their own capabilities.
His talk was received warmly, everyone eagerly anticipating bringing it to realisation in our city. He described it as more than an ordinary exhibition or event, but a social enterprise based on collaboration where sighted and people who are blind can share common experiences like never before.
Dialogue in the Dark has a stunning track record that can only be described as a phenomenon. It has been a sell out wherever it has popped up across 160 sites in 132 cities with over 9 million visitors. Its runaway success proves that there is an interested and willing audience that Guide Dogs Australia will have the privilege to engage as we bring the Dialogue in the Dark program to life next year.