The blind positive ambassadors

Some weeks ago, I virtually encountered once again with DiD facilitator Francis Zhang from Shanghai. As we at DiD strongly believe, we learn from encounters. Our conversation made me think about the new role of the DiD guides and facilitators in the post-Corona time.

Portrait of Francis Zhang

Three elements have been the essentials of Dialogue in the Dark: visually impaired guides, dark environment and the Dialogue as the means of communication. Due to the current Covid-19 crisis, most of our operations in the dark are closed in the world. And even though we are confident we will find a safe way to operate again, we understand some assumptions will inevitably change.

One of this assumptions which might change is the dark environment we have employed during 32 years as our experiential learning platform. That would mean a tremendous paradigm shift for us at DiD. Darkness is a powerful emotional trigger for visitors which tones visitors’ mood and disposition to encounter and Dialogue with the blind guides. Being in the dark- in my experience – makes visitors more receptive toward the Dialogue in the Dark message.

Due to physical distancing reasons, the Dialogue between visually impaired guides and sighted visitors may move – at least partially – to new platforms such as virtual platforms. In the virtual world we lose control of darkness. We cannot make sure every remote participant has switched light off at home. Therefore, the effect of darkness as an emotional catalyst and wake-up call to openness will be missing.

As a result, the heart of the post-Corona DiD may lie almost entirely on the blind facilitators life experience and his & her skills to share the message. The profile of our visually collaborators will need to be different. Today blind collaborators must see themselves as resilient positive ambassadors and learning facilitators.

Some days ago, I attended a webinar by Dan Tomasulo, author of “learned hopefulness” and I imagined our visual impaired colleagues as hope masters. It is hard to refute the fact that in order to live to the full despite disability, hope is a must. Why not thinking we can become hope masters for others?

Some blind persons like Francis have been anticipating this new role. He shared with me that he studied positive psychology at Quinghua University. Besides so, he read many books on the same topic. “Positive psychology is a fantastic field for the blind to learn, and a good tool to handle many troubles in company, family and community.” said Francis.

Positive psychology provided Francis with the needed foundation to develop “Litbeing,” an idea it had been running through his mind before studying positive psychology. “Litbeing is a WeChat official account as many people do in China. We hope Litbeing can be a platform for different people to be enlightened on being more positive and happier. Litbeing targets sighted users. There we blind facilitators share text and audio, we post articles on our online media, and organize some story-telling and discussion offline.”

Francis’ Litbeing current team is made of 4 more collaborators: one more visually impaired person and three more sighted persons – one of them is mother of a visually impaired guide. “Actually, our goal is not so clear yet, I hope we can find our business model in the future and make Litbeing a social enterprise. What I am sure is that all the blind who can face up with their identity of disability, can be a role model of positive psychology for other sighted persons.”

Same as Francis, some other visually impaired persons are making our own grow way through positive psychology, coaching or other disciplines. We are shaping the new profile of the DiD blind facilitators. And we hope to consolidate soon as positive ambassadors not only in the dark experiential environment but also anywhere in the light, including the virtual world.

By Pepe Macías, DSE Master Trainer and Dialogue partner for Mexico