The World Unseen Through The Lenses Of Canon

by Business Watch Team

In a world where sight is often taken for granted, Canon Central and North Africa presented a unique exhibition, ‘World Unseen’, which offered attendees a groundbreaking and novel experience at GITEX Africa in Morocco from 29-31st May, the largest technology and startup event on the continent.

The exhibition created a space for individuals with sight loss to better engage with the visual world, while challenging sighted people to see imagery through their lens, allowing them to experience the power of photography unlike ever before. By providing an opportunity to engage with photography through various sensory inputs, Canon challenged societal perceptions and broke new ground in the field of inclusive technology. The ‘World Unseen’ exhibition was a resounding success, attracting attendees from the region. The blend of art and technology resonated with the audience, garnering an overwhelmingly positive response.

“At Canon, we believe in the transformative power of technology to break down barriers and unlock opportunities for all. The ‘World Unseen’ exhibition demonstrates how we can render the visual world accessible to everyone, especially those with visual impairments,” said Somesh Adukia, Managing Director, Canon Central and North Africa. 

“We believe that technology and art can come together to create extraordinary experiences and inspire people to see the world from a different perspective. This initiative is a significant step towards creating a more inclusive world where everyone, regardless of their physical abilities, can experience the power of imagery. We are grateful for the overwhelming response and look forward to continuing our mission of unveiling the unseen.”

Globally, it is estimated that 2.2 billion people have a vision impairment or blindness. Of these, 43 million people are blind. Access to immersive experiences that cater to their needs is crucial for these individuals. Canon’s ‘World Unseen’ exhibition aimed to bridge this gap by providing an inclusive platform where technology and humanity intersect. This initiative represented a significant milestone towards ensuring that visually impaired people are not excluded from art and photography’s enriching experiences.

The event also saw the participation of Morocco’s Minister of Solidarity, Social Inclusion and Family, H.E. Aawatif Hayar. The Minister expressed her gratitude to Canon for its dedication to creating an accessible experience through art and technology. She also highlighted the profound impact that art and entertainment can have on people, particularly those who are vulnerable, emphasizing that it is not just a source of entertainment but also a powerful tool for personal development and social inclusion.

The Minister stated, “It is crucial to emphasize that people with disabilities are not handicapped by their conditions. Rather, it is the environment around them that can be disabling. Our mission is to create a society where the environment supports and enhances the abilities of every individual, allowing them to thrive. This exhibition exemplifies how we can remove barriers and empower everyone to participate fully in life by adapting our surroundings and approaches.”

The ‘World Unseen’ exhibition invited visitors to engage with imagery by world-renowned photographers and Canon ambassadors, Muhammed Muheisen and Yagazie Emezi from the MENA region, in an experiential and immersive manner.

The inclusion of elevated prints and braille descriptions allowed attendees to feel the different elements of the scene through shapes, highlighted areas, and textures. This tactile approach enabled participants, particularly those with sight loss, to imagine the images through touch, offering an unprecedented way to engage with art. The exhibition also provided a unique perspective for sighted visitors by simulating a range of visual impairments. This feature allowed them to understand how others experience the world, fostering empathy and promoting accessibility.

One of the key highlights of the event was the participation of Mr. Hamid Nabil, the first Moroccan blind PhD holder. He offered an insightful perspective on the event and its impact stating, “The ‘World Unseen’ exhibition was an unprecedented experience for me. Its mission was to reproduce the world of the image, which used to be a mystery to people with visual impairments. This initiative can serve as a strong platform for the development of other programmes that aim at making people with visual impairments more inclusive and productive in their personal, social, academic, and professional lives.”

Another key visitor to the exhibition was Mr. Nabil El Maaroufi, a volunteer technical advisor associated with Visions Technologies, a nonprofit organization in Morocco. Blind for twenty years, he had an overwhelmingly emotional experience as he engaged with the visual world at the exhibition. He stated, ‘During my visit to the Canon World Unseen Exhibition, I discovered some wonderful tactile pictures and descriptions. It was a wonderfully clear experience for me.”

The success of the event highlights the growing interest in and appreciation for novel and immersive experiences. It has set a new benchmark for future exhibitions on the African continent.

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