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What Happens When You Go Blind?

We often take the world around us for granted. We can see the bright blue sky, the birds flitting about, the children playing in the park, and the wind rustling the bright green leaves that are firmly attached to a tree’s branches. Everything around us is a moving picture show that is accompanied by sound, smell, and touch.

But what happens when we take one of those senses away? What happens when you can no longer see?

In 1983, a man named John Hull began keeping an audio diary to help him understand his new reality – blindness. Hull recorded everything he could about his unique sense of loss, and he documented the new way in which he now viewed the world. His recordings were turned into a documentary called Notes On Blindness, which premiered at Sundance in January of 2016.

The documentary was so awe-inspiring that it was turned into a virtual reality experience that everyone can now be a part of. The app, which is also called Notes On Blindness, takes you inside Hull’s world and shows you just what it would be like to experience blindness.

In the first episode, you learn more about how someone who cannot see perceives the activity that goes on around them. In a park, Hull shows you, through sounds, that “the myriad of voices and sounds create a panorama of music and information. Where there is no activity, there is no sound, and then that part of the world dies.”

He relies on sounds to guide him through life. When he hears rain, he explains, “Rain has a way of bringing out the contours of everything. It throws a colored blanket over previously invisible things; instead of an intermittent and thus fragmented world, the steadily falling rain creates a continuity of acoustic experience.”

As Hull’s memories of the faces of his children and wife fade, he laments the fact that he did not get to “see” them grow up. But as time goes on, he learns and works hard to accept and embrace his new reality. Hull says, “As one goes deeper into blindness, the things which once we took for granted then tried desperately to compensate for, in the end, cease to matter.”

He learns that blindness is not a disability. In losing his ability to see, his other senses have learned to work together to show him another way to view the world.

This app takes you on a journey and an experience that you could not be a part of anywhere else. While helping you experience someone else’s reality, you learn to better appreciate and love the world around you. In turn, you start to see and perceive everything differently, including love. After all, “being human is not seeing, it’s loving.”

Notes On Blindness is free and available on iOS devices.  

Featured Image by Conal Gallagher on Flickr

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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