Back in Frankfurt in 1988, former journalist Andreas Heineck debuted Dialogue in the Dark - an immersive exhibition in which participants experience real-life situations in total darkness, accompanied by blind or visually impaired guides. In the past 30-plus years, the project has toured in 41 countries, taking the dialogue to increase awareness of issues affecting the visually impaired community globally.
The platform landed in Shanghai a decade ago and has hosted over 223,000 visitors to encounter a simulated reality without sight. The initiative seeks to not “inspire pity” but instead enables interaction and builds respect, understanding, and insight.
If you haven’t had the chance to go yet, here’s a quick run-down of what to expect.
10:45 am - Initial Preparation
You arrive 15 minutes early for instruction and encouragement! There is a maximum of eight guests per session but they do single-person journeys as well. Remember to ask for help when needed and always keep your cane on the ground.
11:00 am - Into Darkness
It looks like this:
During the one-hour adventure, simulations have you wandering in a forest, taking a cruise on a boat, listening to a movie, getting a bite to eat, and even writing a letter to your future self — all in total darkness. Assisted by a visually impaired guide, you learn to awaken all your other senses to find your way. Lots of critical dialogue takes place with your guide — you’re relying on their careful instruction to navigate this world.
12:15 am - The Last Stop
It lasts about an hour and you’re back in the daylight. Give your eyes time to adjust (ouch!) Hopefully, you’re equipped with greater understanding on how the visually impaired experience and navigate their worlds in darkness. And perhaps a little more insight on how you perceive and navigate your own.
Don’t forget to leave them a ‘thank’ you note on the way out. .
You can book a tour by calling 136 6162 6840. Or you can place an order on their WeChat official account (DID_China).
The Chinese version costs 120/150rmb, while English-language service is 300rmb. The latter must be scheduled at least days ahead of time on the call.
Dialogue in the Dark is located at 99 Jiangbin Lu, near Kaiping Lu / 江滨路99号, 近开平路. Please find more enchanting exhibitions in Shanghai here.