Beyond what words can express: bringing a World Unseen to life

3 min
A visually impaired woman in a brown jacket with short, grey curly hair uses her hands to read the braille content of an exhibition information plinth.

I felt for the first time I had access to something sighted people take for granted”

World Unseen is opening up the power of imagery to everyone. It’s a movement focused on enabling access to the visual world through immersive, multi-sensory experiences. And we put this straight into action with a first-of-its-kind launch event designed with blind and partially sighted people in mind. Hosted at London’s iconic Somerset House on 5th – 7th April, we welcomed more than 1,100 visitors into our inclusive space.

Held in partnership with the RNIB, “the photography exhibition you don’t need to see” centred around a series of emotive images taken by world-renowned photographers, teamed with elevated prints, audio descriptions, soundscapes and braille. Each picture was also obscured by screens simulating a range of different sight conditions – from glaucoma to diabetic retinopathy – to help sighted people gain a better understanding of what partially sighted people are tackling on a daily basis.

Here, some of our visitors share the very personal impact of experiencing an accessible exhibition for the first time.

World Unseen

To be able to immerse yourself in something that previously has been inaccessible has been absolutely amazing"

A close up of a flatbed printer producing braille content

This is true universal design"

Imagery can evoke emotions and tell stories beyond what words can express, and we truly believe it's a medium that should be accessible to everyone.

Our elevated printing technology, combining our flagship Arizona flatbed printer series and innovative PRISMAelevate XL software, gives us the ability to turn images into something more experiential and inclusive – taking something purely visual and creating an immersive and tactile engagement.

This is something that should be mainstream throughout other galleries as well"

A series of three images shows the progression of the elevated printing process. Two stages of printing on a flatbed printer are shown, followed by a hand feeling the texture of the final printed image. The image being printed features a rhino being protected by two armed men.
A fourth image in this block shows the print service provider from Prosign holding another example of an elevated print. He is pointing at the raised texture.

And while these capabilities have been central to the delivery of the exhibition, so too is the collaboration that happened behind the scenes.

From our friends and information accessibility experts, CBB Netherlands, who guided us on which areas of the images to elevate to best enhance and tell the story; to the incredible team at Prosign who used their vast expertise to deliver all the relief, braille and sight condition prints; and our partner RNIB whose insight, unwavering support and passion has truly enabled us to bring our World Unseen vision to life.

The World Unseen exhibition has opened up the world of photography and enabled more blind and partially sighted people to experience the emotive stories, and physical touch, of these iconic images. As a braille user, it’s fantastic to be working with Canon to raise awareness of the possibilities of textured print and to see in action how technology can make art more accessible for people with sight loss"

Visit our online exhibition to find out more about the stories behind the images and experience your own exclusive look into a World Unseen.