Hear The Blind Spot by Together! Ethiopian Residents Charity Organization

Hear The Blind Spot is a data sonification experience that champions greater digital inclusion for visually impaired people in Ethiopia. It tells the story of a visually-impaired young woman called Desta. Through music, she celebrates the rapid progress made in Ethiopia during her lifetime, but points out that millions of people like her are being left behind.

Hear The Blind Spot uses open data from a number of sources including the World Bank and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness. It was created by our organisation Together! Ethiopian Residents Charity Organization and a creative team at a Data4Change design sprint in Nairobi.

Hear The Blind Spot can be experienced by sighted and visually impaired people alike. It can be experienced online in Amharic and English via a custom built screen reader-friendly website, as well as a live performance by a narrator and a musician. When performed live, sighted individuals wear an eye mask or are encouraged to close their eyes so they can experience the data sonification in the same way as those who cannot see. Since it was created, Hear The Blind Spot has been performed live at digital rights conferences as well as in schools in Ethiopia.

Our hope is that Hear The Blind Spot inspires web developers, teachers, policy-makers, visually imparied people and sighted people to demand a more accessible internet. We also hope that it will inspire those who work with ‘data visualization’ — which by definition is an exclusionary and ableist term as it relies solely on vision — to create more inclusive data communication methods for those of us with disabilities.

At the website https://heartheblindspot.org/ you can access the data sonification sheet music (for flute) as well as the script of Desta’s story in English, Amharic and in braille. If you are curious to see or hear a live performance of Hear The Blind spot here is a video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RP7zcYT66OA.

  • Credits
    Awoke Agnew, Together!, Ethiopia Woubakal Tesfaye, Together!, Ethiopia Fasica Berhane, journalist, Ethiopia, Emmanuel Evance, developer, Tanzania Nora Aly, designer, Egypt Valentina D'Efilippo, team leader, Italy Kim Albrecht, developer, Germany Ella Hollowood, data journalist, UK
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