Dialogue Social Enterprise

Moving Beyond Difference

Thursday 11 October 2012, by Mit Somaiya

5 inspired

A. The main facts about the activities of the company.

Dialogue Social Enterprise (DSE) creates exhibitions and workshops in either complete darkness – “Dialogue in the Dark” – or absolute silence – “Dialogue in Silence” -, facilitated by blind or deaf guides and trainers. In those environments, the blind or deaf guides and trainers are the high potentials , while non-disabled people are confronted with their limits. This role reversal and the encounter with disabled talents in a highly immersible space are the keys to enhance empathy and to shift ignorance/ discrimination onto interest/ respect. Dialogue-Programs help overcome disability-related prejudices, while empowering disabled people through employment.

Dialogue in the dark

Dialogue in the Dark guides lead visitors in small groups through different settings in absolute darkness. The visitors learn how to interact without sight by using their other senses. The exhibition offers the public an experience that can change mindsets on disability and diversity, and increase tolerancea. It is close communication, provoking a change in perspectives. Dialogue in the Dark has been presented through exhibitions and workshops in more than 30 countries and 130 cities throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas since it’s opening in 1988. So far, more than 7 million visitors worldwide have experienced Dialogue in the Dark.

  • Raise awareness about non-visual perception
  • Foster an encounter to overcome social barriers
  • Increase awareness of otherness
  • Develop social skills such as empathy and trust

Growth and business performance

  • Raise awareness and create tolerance for Otherness in the general public
  • Overcoming barriers between “us” and “them”
  • Create jobs for disadvantaged people by turning deficits into potentials and thereby strengthen the self-esteem of individuals who are typically under-valued.

Dialogue in Silence

It is not an installation simulating deafness. On the contrary: It serves as a platform for encounters between hearing and non-hearing people advancing the overcoming of barriers between "us" and "them" and re-defining "disability" as "ability" and "otherness" as "likeness".

  • The workshops show participants how to hear and listen in silence. The focus is less on how we express ourselves but on how others perceive what we communicate to them.
  • Foster openness, empathy and power of concentration. One of the outcomes is, that participants feel empowered to ask for feedback, question assumptions and verify that the messages communicated were understood as intended.
  • Participants take off their headsets and discuss how the techniques learned foster personal.

Growth and business performance

  • Reverse roles by tearing hearing people out of their social routines and familiar reception and judge patterns.
  • Discover a repertoire of non-verbal expression that enables them to communicate creatively through mimic, gesture and body language.
  • The deaf and hearing impaired guides and trainers, who by virtue of their experience and their expertise in sign language are experts in non-verbal communication.
  • Change the mindset of visitors and thus become ambassadors of a soundless world.

B. The Ethical challenges this company is addressing.

a. It is an ethical social enterprise which provides job opportunities for disabled
We know that when disabled people find jobs, they always suffer a lot of discriminations. Only if they are very excellent, they cannot find the ordinary jobs as non-disabled, or they can only find some jobs that non-disabled are unwilling to do. Even if they are luckily to be employed, they cannot receive equal treatment to the non-disabled employee.

b. It creates a perception-shift from discrimination to respect
In the social context, for a long time, the disabled are oppressed psychologically. In the general companies, disabled employees may encounter other employees’ taunts. They are rarely respected. And most of time they are underestimated.

c. It helps the participants to learn how to communicate effectively through active listening & participation
The programs/activities make non-disabled people begin to think: compared with deaf guides, do we lack eye communication? Compared with blind trainers, do we lack communication by heart? After such kind of experience, non-disabled people learn how to listen in the silent? How to “listen” with eyes? When we express ourselves, we’d like to pay more attention to the understanding of listeners?

C. What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it?

Dialogue Social Enterprise is an ethical social enterprise who seeks to overcome barriers between “us” and “them” and to redefine “disability” as “ability,” and “otherness” as “likeness”. This happens mainly through the exhibitions Dialogue in the Dark and Dialogue in Silence, as well as through business workshops for teams and leaders. Dialogue Social Enterprise is a social enterprise in the best sense and they are totally driven to accomplish their mission. Also

• Until now, DSE has held a lot of social activities which leave a good impression to the public.
• Many customers who have experienced the program share their feelings with the public and make excellent evaluations about DSE.
• Many famous media such as CNN and NY Times, have made good reports about DSE.



Start a new discussion

3 Discussions / 4 Messages

  • Dialogue Social Enterprise 27 February 2013 at 18:58 , by edguir9

    The logo of this business inspires me dynamism, creativity and a young work environment. I believe that creativity and originality are very important values to change the world and improve it. As Albert Einstein said: "If you are looking for different results, do not always do same."

    The title of this business also inspires me very positive things:
    - The dialogue is very important to reach agreements and evolve.
    - If this dialogue is used to achieve social improvements, it generates beneficial outcomes for people and this allows societies to move.
    - It is better if in this process is involved business, because the businesses create jobs and generate wealth.

    So this perspective creates a very beneficial situation for the society. I think one of the problems of the current international crisis is the mentality of economic actors (and political actors). This mentality has to change, they (and we) have to stop thinking only in economic benefits and start thinking about other kinds of benefits (social, environmental, human ...). Companies don’t generate social benefits using the thought of Adam Smith. The selfish actions of each of the individuals in a society doesn’t generate welfare for the entire community.

    I believe that dialogue and understanding between social actors and economic actors is a necessary factor for companies to achieve higher levels of social and economic welfare in Western societies.

    I like the Dialogue Social Enterprise project because they give voice and importance to social groups that are often marginalized and sometimes running away from "normal" society. I think it is a great example of how to create a project that generates various types of wealth (social, human, economic ...).

  • Dialogue Social Enterprise 28 February 2013 at 17:39 , by Cynthia

    The detail that caught my attention is the founding date.
    For 25 years the company has been raising awareness in the people. This is important because prior social engagement was not as important for businesses. It is an innovative company whose main aim was to make a positive change in society.
    This case inspires me because now I know we all have very easy access to information from any disability but we are not really aware of what a day to day in their lives. The company offers interesting activities in which anyone can feel their emotions and thoughts. In those moments we can feel strong but weak at the same time, the big difference is that during that experience no participant feels excluded or rejected by the simple fact of being disabled.
    There is a phrase that says "experience is the only way to learn" and it is probably true. Thus all those who have tried this experience will have changed their view of the disabled and also to value their skills.
    In my opinion this activity should be mandatory for everyone, whether young or old.
    Currently, in the population, there is a lack of ethics, these activities give hope to believe in change.

  • Innovalley 28 February 2013 at 23:01 , by aldo
    • Innovalley 1 March 2013 at 13:36 , by aldo

      Innovalley Inc. is a Silicon Valley-based innovation company. Inspired by the creative energy cities like Barcelona and San Francisco, the passion for design and an intense desire to innovate, they started this factory of real ideas: the ones that dare to grow up and to become smart, beautiful, sustainable and happy products.

      Its goal is to make technology meet the fields of apparel and fashion. They believe that through user friendly experiences and exceptional wearable designs the usefulness of our everyday items will increase significantly.

      This company really inspired me because of its innovative and fresh approach to improve everybody life. The product that has most inspired me is the GPShoes. They have integrated the latest technology in a totally traditional product and has direct application to people who is sightless. THAT’S AWESOME!

      They look at the world as it is and realise how it could be through their products.

      I would really recommend you to take a look at its CEO blog: http://www.xavierverdaguer.com/

Location: Hamburg (Germany)

Sector: Human health and social work activities

Official website: http://www.dialogue-se.com/

Nbr. visits: 656

Nbr. inspires: 5