A social enterprise founded by Ashoka Fellow Andreas Heinecke, Dialogue in the Dark facilitates the social inclusion of marginalized people worldwide. About 610 million people in the world are registered as disabled. They face stereotypes, fears, and prejudices that have excluded them from equal opportunities. Dialogue in the Dark creates employment for the blind and disadvantaged people.
Dialogue in the Dark has held workshops and exhibitions in over 30 countries throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas. Taking place in the dark, participants lose their most dominant sense – their sight – and are led by visually impaired guides through a variety of specially designed experiences.
The exhibition experience is to raise awareness about the non-visual and develop social skills such as trust and empathy. Whereas the workshop experience aimed at business professionals is designed to focus on skills to improve communication, leadership, team building, and diversity.
The mission of Dialogue in the Dark is not only to create employment for the disadvantaged but also allow people to overcome the barriers between “us” and “them” and foster social inclusion through raising awareness and tolerance for others. To date, they have created over 7000 jobs for the visually impaired and have reached more than 6 million people worldwide.
Andreas Heinecke, who struggled with his Jewish-Nazi ancestry while growing up, had his first encounter with a blind person while working at a radio station. At first, he did not know how to cope with the situation and felt pity for his colleague. But he began to ask questions such as: Why do people marginalize others? How can one part of my family have killed another part of my family? On what grounds do we judge people and classify them as inferior or superior? In 1988, he began the quest for tolerance, respect, and dialogue by founding the company and became the first Ashoka Fellow in Western Europe.
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