My 24h-blind experiment

In my first month at PANDA Guide as a product designer, I spent 24h blindfolded to experiment with the feeling of living as a visually impaired.

PANDA Guide is a French start-up aiming to make the world more accessible to visually impaired people by providing them the right technological tools necessary for their autonomy. I joined as a product designer in September 2019, and as every new employee, I spent 24h blindfolded.

Of course, 24h is quite limited and didn’t allow me to explore most pain points a blind person can encounter, such as doing their groceries, but it gave me very interesting insights on some aspects of their daily struggles. My colleague put me the blindfold at 12am and the deal was to keep it until the next day, giving me some “tasks” to do throughout the day. Here is what I’ve learnt:

Lunch

Social interactions

I also noticed that being blind, it was much more stressful for me to go talk to people around me, because I didn’t know who I was talking to, if they were even listening. The fact that they could see me but I didn’t created a feeling of unbalance I was quite uncomfortable with. In the street, however, I was surprised of how often people stopped to ask if I needed help.

At home

Mobility

Indoor vs outdoor

Digital tools

Summary

It was important for me to do this to understand a bit better the constraints caused by visual impairment and the lack of accessibility in daily life. They have to be more aware of details we usually don’t even consider, as an unclosed door, etc. All these processes are energy-draining. Although it wasn’t a pleasant experience, it was overall deeply enriching as a starting product designer for visually impaired.

Product designer and traveler. Take a look at some of my work: http://leanathan.com or follow my adventures on Instagram: @leanthn