The world we see

Young and I joined the ixd community with the hopes of working on cool projects that could impact people’s lives in meaningful ways.

Life in New York City can be a challenge for anyone. It’s busy, congested and things move quickly. When I arrived in New York last summer, I experienced lots of blind people in the street as I walked to school, and sometimes witnessed them being mistreated by impatient, rude, pedestrians.

I often wondered how I could help.

This is Young’s grandma. She lost her vision when she was just a teenager. Because of her positive and hopeful mind (despite her disability), Young was inspired as a child.

On our walks to school, Young and I would often bounce ideas around on how we could make a difference for the blind.

Last semester in our physical computing class. We decided to team up and redesign the white cane. We added features like slippery or wet surface detection and LEDs that could assist in catching the attention of pedestrians distracted by their phones.

Prototype testing with user groups.

Also last semester, while we were conducting research at Vision (which is a center for the blind located down the street from our school), we found an activity program guide for the blind residents. Interestingly we saw that there were photography, drawing, knitting, beading and jewelry making classes.

This sparked our curiosity, and we recently decided to check out a photography class.

As we arrived for class, we made our way down some narrow unassuming hallways. It ended up being in located in the basement in a small room.

Upon entering, we met Mark Andres and 4 of his students. They were gathered around a folding table having a casual chat.

The space was pretty tiny and it didn’t seem like much was going on. But little did we know that something special was happening down here.

When Mark asked if we wanted to see some of their shots, we were almost speechless.

Their work transports you into magical and surreal places where there’s no lack of imagery. It’s interesting to see the alter egos or characters they produce and they usually have super flamboyant looks and vibrant colors and textures.

When we asked why do you take photographs to one of photography students, he answered:

I do it because it makes me feel good…Just knowing that someone else enjoys the work, makes me happy.

We get excited about a project that could impact people’s lives in meaningful ways and as part of our entrepreneurial design class we have the opportunity to do just that.

Our goal is to help empower an often overlooked community like the blind.

But we need your help and feedback on the best way to bring this project into reality by asking the question:

How might we create events that can help enrich, empower and express the artistic talents of those who are visually impaired in a social and inclusive way?

At this point we are envisioning that this will happen in the form of a live event that showcases talent from the blind?

We’d love to hear your ideas. Let’s start the dialogue on twitter. @theworldwesee