The Dialogue in the Dark tour has been successfully presented during 30 years. It has had a big impact on millions of visitors and it has been hosted in many cultures and continents.
The heart of this unique tour lies in the encounter between sighted visitors and blind guides. So far, the classical DiD tour experience for visitors has been framed on two core elements: using the remaining senses and communicating in a more collaborative and empathetic way.
But it is time to evolve. Apps and gadgets have transformed not only the lives of sighted people but also the lives of blind people. Apps and software allow user with any visual disability to have access to visual information and to fulfill inclusion in the educational, social and working field. Technology, we found out, can be a common platform for encounter. We believe that accessible technology is a pure act of empathy. Inventors of such apps have found very practical and useful answers to the needs of people with disability by designing incredible apps. This is why the new DiD tour integrates technology as third element of the Dialogue, in order to fulfil a new experience for visitors to the dark and encourage relevant and up-to-date conversations.
For this new DiD concept, DSE partnered with MindTags for the technology production. Smart phones are used in combination with their software. They do not emit any light and are set for voice interaction with visitors. Many elements within the darkened areas are prepared to interact with the smart phone and provide the visitors with voice information.
The new tour has made essential changes in the following elements:
- The role of the guide. In this tour the guide sometimes acts as a facilitator and sometimes asks provocative questions and pushes actively visitors to think about actions they can undertake to promote a more empathetic and inclusive society. Technology, in this context, is introduced as a common platform for exchange and empathy practice.
- The visitors. They now enjoy a more challenging experience since the tour is not only a guided tour, but a tour where they will face some challenges as identifying clothes colors, books titles, TV programs, navigate the city and cross the street all this by using technology and some accessible apps like GPS, color and text identifiers and audio description. Furthermore, they are sensitized to the real possibilities that accessible technology has opened for blind people. When visitors go into the dark, they are given a smart phone specially set not to make any light but only voice interaction instead. Visitors will use their smart phone in the dark with a headphone. The guide explains the three tools to practice in the dark: the other senses, the empathetic communication and the accessible technology. Visitors are asked for specific assignment in each darkened area. Then the adventure starts!
This new tour is in the prototype phase. An exclusive group of guides have been trained by this new concept and the new format is offered to the general public once per day at the DialogHaus Hamburg, under the name “Smarter in the Dark”. After this summer’s prototype testing phase is over, DSE plans to hopefully implement this new concept in the rest of the DiD venues in the world.
With a bit of luck, we are now witnessing the transformation of the DiD classical tour into a renovated up- to- date platform for encounter and learning towards a more open and inclusive society.