The Blind See More
‘The Blind See More’ opens with a voiceover informing the audience that “one out of eight women will develop breast cancer”. A light music soundtrack supports the visual, Braille inspired graphics that sighted people see on the screen. The narrator explains:
“In Germany, over 70,000 are diagnosed every year. For 18,000 it’s fatal. Early detection can save lives. A new method uses people with a remarkable ability. People who are twice as likely to discover even the smallest anomalies.”
Cue the surprise reveal. The narrator inspirationally announces “blind people” are the ones who can discover those small anomalies, as the sighted audience sees an extreme close up of a clouded, presumably blind eye.
Cut to a male doctor describing what a breast examination can reveal. A visual chart shows the sighted audience that a self examination can detect a 25 mm lump, while a doctor can detect 10-20 mm and a blind person can detect 6-8 mm. The sighted audience then sees a blind woman giving a breast examination.
The narrator announces, “Introducing Discovering Hands Tactile Diagnostics”. The graphic animates, causing the letter ‘O’ in Discovering and the letter ‘H’ in Hands shift to a visual representation of Braille. OH. Why these two letters? We don’t know.
We’re told “the brand identity focuses on the revolutionary idea of this new collaboration. Combining the extraordinarily tactile skills of blind women with the competence of medical professionals.”
That blind people are portrayed as lacking in competence, is the embodiment of how disabled people, regardless of skill or proficiency, are perceived as lacking in expertise.
The ad continues. As the title “The Blind See More” appears on screen, the narrator tells the audience that “the brand’s new key feature is an innovative use of typeface that embodies the very idea of this new teamwork”. Best we can tell, it seems the teamwork this ad espouses involves blind people asking sighted people what the typeface says. Only one letter in each word is written in Braille and just because a blind person can’t parse out a word from one letter doesn’t mean they’re incompetent, it means this brand identity did not consider them a primary, let alone viable audience. But we should have clued into this with the title. It’s not called “Blind People See More”, it’s called “The Blind See More”. The very humanity of these skilled practitioners was erased before audiences even had a chance to press play.
And yet, there’s more. The sighted audience then sees a series of phrases, such as ‘Blindingly Obvious’ printed on various forms of swag. And while some of these products appear to have Braille embossed over top, it does not change two key facts. First, that the video had no audio descriptions. ‘The Blind See More’ may have been about blind people, but it was not for blind audiences. Second, the usage of Braille for visual branding is not innovative, it’s appropriation.
When the video comes to an end, the narrator tells the audience that “Blindness is no longer a handicap, but a gift. Substantially contributing to saving lives”. And we are left awestruck by the horror. Blindness is not a handicap. Nothing is a handicap. A handicap is an outdated and offensive term. And its usage demonstrates that everyone who participated in the creation of this video and this brand identity knows only the stigma of blindness and disability.
And so we’re left wondering, had Discovering Hands, Grey Germany and KW43 worked with competent blind designers, would we have wound up with a brand identity that reflects blind identity?