Leading sight loss charity RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) and The&Partnership have launched a new campaign ‘See the person, not the sight loss’, challenging outdated public attitudes and misperceptions of sight loss.
RNIB’s in-depth research tells us that the main barrier faced by blind and partially sighted people in the UK is public misperceptions and it is this insight that inspired the campaign.
At the heart of the campaign sits an emotive and thought-provoking film, directed by BAFTA-nominated Jesse Lewis-Reece at You Are Here. The film tells the story of Ava, a fictional teenage girl who must come to terms with losing her sight. Her story is inspired by the real-life sight loss journeys of many, capturing an authentic experience of diagnosis, which often mirrors the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.
We see the impact that losing her sight has on many areas of her life, from education to relationships. Most crucially, the film demonstrates how sight loss can impact mental health as well as physical health. However, as Ava moves towards the acceptance stage, a theme of hope starts to emerge as the film continues. With the help of RNIB’s various products and services, Ava’s friends, family and educators offer their support, whilst an RNIB Eye Care Liaison Officer counsels her post-diagnosis. Ava starts to find her feet again, accepting her condition and regaining confidence.
In portraying the character of Ava, the lead actor, Eli London, drew upon their own personal experiences of sight loss, having had retinoblastoma in childhood, resulting in monocular vision. Jesse Lewis-Reece worked incredibly closely with Eli during production to fully understand the impact sight loss has had upon them, and their perspective was invaluable to the creative and film-making process.
To make the film accessible to blind and partially sighted viewers, RNIB and The&Partnership used a number of techniques when crafting the audio storytelling. These included: creating the voiceover to sufficiently tell Ava’s emotional journey, as well as creating a multi-layered soundscape that all audiences could fully immerse themselves in. Additionally, Thom Yorke’s solo version of Radiohead’s ‘Videotape’ was chosen as the music track to accompany the emotional narrative, as it delivers a message of resilience and hope.
Martin Wingfield, Director of Brand at RNIB, said: “We need to explode the myths and misconceptions around sight loss which lie at the heart of many of the challenges blind and partially sighted people face – both every day and throughout their lives.
Toby Allen, Executive Creative Director at The &Partnership, said, “At their best films are empathy machines, and we have pulled out every stop to make this campaign both deeply empathetic to convey the experience of sight loss to a sighted audience, and at the same time thoroughly accessible to the blind and partially sighted community. It’s a unique balancing act but Jesse and his team rose to the challenge.”
The campaign has been supported by many partners, most notably the support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery through the Postcode Care Trust.
The two-minute film is online and in cinemas, along with the 60 second film. The 60 second film also aired on TV, launching on Coronation Street on Monday 3 October, with a 30 second version running throughout the rest of the campaign period on both TV & VOD. The full three-and-a-half-minute film is available to view online also.
To further elevate the issue of sight loss to the public, RNIB is partnering with Channel 4’s Gogglebox. During Friday’s episode on 14th October, the cast will watch the campaign film, opening up the conversation about sight loss to the whole nation. The bespoke partnership was brokered by media agency, Wavemaker UK.
Shorter social videos narrated by the actor Eli London will aim to change specific elements of public behaviour, including problematic first encounters such as offering help, fair employment opportunities and clearing street obstacles.
Inspired by the film’s storyline of gaming with sight loss, RNIB is also planning to launch a new ‘Design for Every Gamer’ initiative later this year, to make gaming more accessible to everyone.