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.


The story about Lasse and the Perspectacles

Lasse Larsson has an impaired vision which for some people can be difficult to understand. But thanks to the Perspectacles his classmates and teacher can now relate to him.

Written by: Margrethe Løkkegaard

23 year old Lasse Larsson’s sight is not very good. In his everyday life this implicates him having difficulties reading the blackboard in school, and having to listen to his school books instead of reading them.

Lasse’s left eye is 6/60 and his right is 3/60. Translated this means that when a normally sighted person can see a cat 60 meters away, the cat has to be only three and six meters away from Lasse in order for him to see it.

And even though you understand that his sight is not very good, it can be difficult to comprehend since you have never tried it yourself. The decreased sense of vision brings along some everyday challenges which for Lasse can be to meet new people – both when meeting a new friend, but also when asking for directions, Lasse elaborates:
– If I ask a person at the train station if this train stops at Høje Taastrup, most people get surprised at first. They must be thinking “the monitor is right there, why doesn’t he just look at that?” until they realise that I can’t see. Then they for the most part are very helpful – and sometimes curios.

The perspectacles shows a new way to see

Lasse is always open when it comes to talking about his sight and this showed when he started school.
– I started telling my classmates and teacher that my sight isn’t good so if I asked more times about something, it was simply because I could not see the blackboard, Lasse says.

Then as a part of being closely involved in the development of the Perspectacles simulation goggles Lasse got the chance to show his teacher and classmates how his reality looks. The goggles are a low-tech solution and have a vision filter that can be changed to simulate the different kinds of visual impairment, everything from tunnel vision to a decreased vision like Lasse’s.

Lasse took his teacher for a walk in Roskilde while she was wearing the Perspectacles, showing her how his world looks and how he navigates through town.

– My teacher tried the goggles and we began walking down to the busses. This way I showed my teacher which challenges I meet everyday – like what colour is the pedestrian

traffic light and which number does this bus have? These things can be challenging for me, describes Lasse.

The goggles helped understanding

The Perspectacles was very helpful to gain a mutual understanding of what Lasse experiences every day and Lasse’s teacher could now plan the lessons with a better understanding of what he needed.

– The walk in Roskilde gave my teacher a whole new perspective, as she said “now I understand why Lasse reacts in the way that he does”. For example my teacher said to me, “Earlier I thought that the reason you never waved back at me, when I waved from my car, was because you were mad or annoyed with me. But because of the goggles I understand that you just couldn’t see me”, Lasse says and explains that his teacher also after the experience with the Perspectacles finally understood the value of a good photocopy with no blurred text.

The Ballast CPH team will work on a Augmented Reality-version of the Perspectacles during the fall.