BALLAST CPH: THREE ENGINEERS CREATING AWARENESS OF VISUAL IMPAIRMENT
Written by: Margrethe Løkkegaard
Ballast CPH became a thing when the three engineers Christine Svensson, Helle Vedø and Michala Mathiesen finished their master’s degree in Sustainable Design from AAU CPH in 2016. The dream is to create awareness of what it means to live with a visual impairment and from that improve the way of designing cities, websites and products.
The three engineers have worked with several tools to help people understand what a life with visual impairment can look like. One of the tools is the Perspectacles simulation goggles where one goggle can simulate endless kinds of visual impairment due to the design of the goggle which includes exchangeable vision filters.
The Perspectacles are also a part of the board game Perspectacles – The Game, that the three women have developed. The game is a teaching game and has two rounds. In the first round the participant is placed in the shoes of a person with a visual impairment – and has to go through different activities while wearing the simulation goggles. In the second round the roles change and the same participant now has to put himself in the shoes of e.g. a relative or a co-worker. The game results in better understanding, improvement ideas, as well as it provides knowledge on the most common eye diseases and their consequences.
Creating the start-up, Ballast CPH, was the direct outcome of the three engineers’ master thesis, which focused on how to explain visual impairment in the best way possible. In the beginning of the thesis project the idea was to focus on designing for blind people,but quickly Christine, Helle, and Michala found out that the amount of completely blind people in Denmark was low. Nevertheless they found that there was a lot of people living with different degrees of visual impairment that found it difficult to make their surroundings understand what their eye condition meant for them in their day-to-day lives.
Christine, Helle, and Michala then decided to find a solution, thus this resulted in making the Perspectacles simulation goggles as a communication tool for both private people as well as sight professionals.
Currently, a year after they finished their thesis, Ballast CPH has customers in Denmark, Germany, Portugal and Rumania, and are now working on pairing the Perspectacles with Augmented Reality.