Retinitis pigmentosa is a rare genetic disease that breaks down the retina and causes vision loss as it progresses. Like many with the condition, Yvonne Shortt was diagnosed as a child when she realized that her sight was different from those in her family when they wandered into dark movie theaters or looked at the stars at night, and she struggled to do the same.
Now legally blind as an adult, Shortt cultivates a visual art practice that involves shaping figurative busts from clay, moss, grasses, and other natural materials. “I make a face of a little girl, and I make that face for hours until I feel her breathing. I thought, if I can’t see, will I have that connection with it?” she says of experiencing her vision slowly diminish. “But there’s the tactility, the wetness of the clay, how it dries. I realized that I can still make objects even with my eyes closed.”
Filmmaker James Robinson dives into Shortt’s story in one part of the documentary series Adapt-Ability, produced by The New York Times. The film chronicles how Shortt experienced the progression of the disease and offers a simulation of what the world looks like from her body as she gradually loses clarity and her peripheral vision. Robinson explains:
Unlike the stereotype of the blind living in a lightless world, Ms. Shortt, like most other legally blind people, lives a nuanced existence between those who see well and those who can’t see a thing… She can see some things some of the time, depending on various factors, including the amount of ambient light, her distance from the object and the object’s location in her field of vision.
Although the condition has necessitated life adjustments like the use of a white cane, Shortt has come to understand her limitations as a benefit to her art, her other senses, and her ability to find compassion for those around her. (via Laughing Squid)
Share this story
A brilliantly designed commercial for Mastercard is intended to be as accessible as the product it’s promoting. The project of filmmaker Fredrik Bond in collaboration with branding agency McCann, the advertisement opens with an audio description produced for people who are blind or partially sighted, a feature that overlays the remainder of the work.
The ensuing narrative, which is used as an essential storytelling device rather than optional addition, follows the protagonist, Marjorie—played by actress and activist Marilee Talkington—as she leaves her apartment to grab a coffee. A roving spotlight illuminates friends and passersby, who produce sound-generating activities that she parses as she walks down the sidewalk with a cane. Once at the cafe, Marjorie uses Mastercard’s new Touch Cards, which are notched in different shapes to help people who are visually impaired distinguish credit from debit from prepaid.
At its close, “Spotlight” amends the company’s long-running slogan with a pitch for more inclusivity and accessibility that mirrors the approach introduced by the commercial: “Because a world designed for all of us is priceless.”
Share this story
An Advocacy Campaign Spotlights the Ordinary Lives of People with Disabilities in a Lighthearted Short Film
To kick off their joint WeThe15 campaign, the International Paralympic Committee and International Disability Alliance commissioned a short film that takes a humorous and playful approach to showcasing the ordinary lives of people with disabilities. Produced by Sam Pilling of Pulse Films, the ad uses a series of vignettes to spotlight members of the disability community, who speak to their joyful, frustrating, and routine experiences alongside the discrimination and stereotypes many confront on a daily basis.
WeThe15 will help launch the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and be shown at the opening ceremony on August 24. It hopes to spur greater visibility, inclusion, and accessibility for the 1.2 billion people living with disabilities worldwide, making it the largest marginalized group at about 15 percent of the global population. We’re also enjoying “Superhuman ’21,” a similarly lighthearted film by Rina Yang.
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Craft
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.