After an incredible run shedding light on low vision and blindness, Dialogue in the Dark Melbourne closed its doors on July 14, 2019.

Over two years, Dialogue in the Dark Melbourne provided meaningful employment to more than 20 people living with low vision or blindness, and challenged 21,000 members of the public to adjust their perspective on the workforce capabilities of people living with disability.

We are proud to announce that The Culture Group will now take over the reins of Dialogue in the Dark, extending its impact further.

Guide Dogs will support the success of the social enterprise by working collaboratively with The Culture Group to ensure ongoing employment for people with low vision and blindness and the measurement of social impact. This report speaks to the social impact of the Melbourne Dialogue in the Dark experience. 

01

What is Dialogue in the Dark?

Dialogue in the Dark is a sensory exhibition set in total darkness, designed to enlighten the public and raise awareness of low vision and blindness.

Participants could wander through a simulation of famous Melbourne settings in complete darkness.

Founded in 1988, the Dialogue in the Dark exhibition has toured major cities around the world.  The Melbourne edition was designed to replicate a person with low vision’s experience in travelling our city.

Each experience was facilitated by a skilled guide with low vision or blindness and included a candid Q&A session on conclusion.

Here’s a quick snapshot of Dialogue in the Dark’s achievements, both in Melbourne and around the globe:

21,000+ visitors to Dialogue in the Dark Melbourne

20+ employees with low vision or blindness

Concept based on 29 years of experience in more than 40 countries

19 exhibitions currently running across the globe

500,000 visitors globally

489 employees with low vision or blindness globally

01 / 06

What is Dialogue in the Dark?

And what has it achieved?

02

What impact has Dialogue created?

Dialogue in the Dark Melbourne aimed to inform and improve society’s understanding of people with disability.

The exhibition was an experience to remember, share, and discuss. It was about sparking a greater social dialogue around blindness and low vision.

To measure the exhibition’s impact, each participant was encouraged to complete a short survey before and after their experience.

The surveys were designed to record people’s change in perception immediately after participating in Dialogue in the Dark. All the insights you’re about to view were informed by the responses to these two surveys.

of visitors strongly agree ‘dialogue’ is important for Victoria

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

A 2018 industry report shows the benchmark NPS for charities is 27 – Dialogue far surpasses industry averages

of visitors are extremely likely to recommend the experience.

Perfect 5-star ratings on Trip Advisor, Facebook and Ticket Master

02 / 06

What impact has Dialogue created?

What did the experience mean for visitors? How was the exhibition received in general?

03

Creating change in awareness

Before their visit, 7 out of 10 participants didn’t know anyone with blindness or low vision.

Dialogue had a significant effect on these people. Every visitor sat down to speak with their guide–a person with low vision–and could ask questions to expand awareness of the reality of living with low vision or blindness.

People walking at Flinders Street Station

7/10 people didn’t know a person with blindness prior to Dialogue

When presented with the statement “if a person who is blind doesn’t ask for help, it’s probably because they are too shy”, 33% of visitors weren’t sure whether they agreed or disagreed.

Following Dialogue, however, these uncertain responses dropped by half, and strong disagreement with the statement doubled. From this, we can see that visitors left with a greater appreciation for the independence of people with low vision and blindness, and their desire to have that independence recognised.

Agreement with statement: "If a person who is blind doesn't ask for help, it's probably because they are too shy"

Before Dialogue
After Dialogue

Before ‘Dialogue’, 54% of visitors weren’t sure whether Melbourne effectively accommodated people with low vision or blindness.

Dialogue successfully reduced uncertainty around this issue. The number of visitors responding to the question with ‘not sure’ dropped by 66% after Dialogue.

Surveys also recorded a lift in agreement that Melbourne caters well for people who are blind.

It’s worth nothing this lift came in ‘somewhat agree’ rather than ‘totally agree’–perhaps indicating visitors feel more can be done around the issue of accessibility in urban planning.

Agreement with statement: "Melbourne is a city that caters well for people who are blind"

Before Dialogue
After Dialogue

03 / 06

Creating change in awareness

Did the experience reduce uncertainty and ignorance around issues that affect people who are blind or have low vision?

04

Creating change in understanding

9 of every 10 visitors agreed that it greatly improved their understanding of people with blindness.

Less than 1% of visitors said the experience had no effect on them whatsoever.

9/10 visitors agreed that it greatly improved their understanding of people with blindness.

Measures of emotion were used to assess the ways and degree to which Dialogue influenced empathy.

Following Dialogue, visitors were presented with a list of 20 emotions. 10 of these were positive in nature–such as excitement and attentiveness. The other 10 were negative–for example, shame and fear.

Visitors indicated the degree they felt each emotion during the Dialogue experience, ranging from ‘not at all’ to ‘extremely’. The aim? Understand how visitors interpreted the experience of being blind, and whether they felt it reflects a sense of control or, conversely, powerlessness.

More visitors characterised their experience of Dialogue using positive, rather than negative, emotions: the most intense being ‘interested’, ‘attentive’ and ‘alert’. Interpreting Dialogue in this positive way means visitors could better understand people who are blind, without necessarily viewing them as victims or suffering through circumstance.

Emotions felt during the experience

Overview
Positive
Negative

04 / 06

Creating change in understanding

How did Dialogue affect visitor empathy for people with low vision or blindness? Are they more attuned to a person with blindness’ experience?

05

Creating change in attitudes

Almost all visitors—more than 98%—agreed that the exhibition helped change attitudes toward people who are blind.

Agreement with statement: "Dialogue can help improve attitudes towards people who are blind"

AGREE 0%

Before ‘Dialogue’, 40% of all visitors agreed they felt sorry for people with blindness to some degree.

After the ‘Dialogue’ experience, these feelings shifted drastically.

After replicating a person with low vision’s experience in Dialogue, there were twice the number of respondents disagreeing with the statement ‘I feel sorry for people who are blind’.

Agreement with statement: "I feel sorry for people who are blind" – Before & after Dialogue

Before Dialogue
After Dialogue

This is an excellent result! Pity implies a person is lacking, and casts them in the role of ‘victim’. It alienates people by isolating them from the majority.

Reduced attitudes of pity towards people with blindness represents a step to improved inclusion and social integration.

Following Dialogue and the positive attitude shifts it created, 8 out of 10 people agreed they were more open to relationships with people who are blind as a result.

Agreement with statement: "I am now more open to a relationship with a person who is blind"

AGREE 0%

This result, perhaps more than any other, speaks to the value of the Dialogue in the Dark exhibition. By removing barriers in understanding and comfort, it helped create opportunity for better inclusion and social integration for people with low vision and blindness.

05 / 06

Creating change in attitudes

How did the experience change people’s feelings, assumptions or behaviours relating to people with blindness or low vision? Are they more likely to interact with people with low vision in ways that are respectful and inclusive?

06

Final thoughts

Any dialogue, by definition, hinges on the concept of exchange: the trading of ideas, thoughts, and perceptions. Based on these findings, Dialogue in the Dark is no different: trading unfamiliarity for awareness, exchanging indifference for inclusion, and replacing misunderstanding with empathy and compassion on issues of blindness and low vision.

The Dialogue in the Dark team would like to thank everyone who supported this immersive exhibition. Research has proven that Dialogue in the Dark has created a genuinely positive social impact in Melbourne and far beyond!

The team would also like to thank Guide Dogs for introducing Australia to Dialogue in the Dark, and being pioneers for change in the community. Guide Dogs will remain involved through a partnership with training organisation, The Culture Group.

The Culture Group will continue to provide employment to people with low vision or blindness and will carry on the success of Dialogue in the Dark through specialised workshops designed to create lasting impact.

 

© 2018 Dialogue in the Dark™

The concept of “Dialogue in the Dark” and its related trademarks are the intellectual property of Dialogue Social Enterprise GmbH.

06 / 06

Final thoughts