Initiatives for Building Inclusive Society
With the aim of building society that is inclusive to all regardless of visual impairment, the Santen Group promotes activities to raise public awareness of visual impairments and help people learn about the importance of being "able to see."
Joining the Valuable 500 International Initiative Promoting the Active Participation of People with Disabilities
The Santen Group has joined The Valuable 500, an international initiative aimed at promoting inclusion of people with disabilities.
The Valuable 500 was launched in January 2019, at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. It is an international initiative to call on business leaders to foster innovations enabling people with disabilities to realize their potential value in society, business, and the economy.
Commitment by Santen
Inclusion is one of our three strategic pillars in Santen 2030, our long term vision, to realize "Happiness with Vision". Through Inclusion, we aim to build a society that is inclusive regardless of visual impairment, and we are strategically pursuing the following approaches:
- Improve awareness and understanding of vision impairments
- Enjoy each other and share values
- Search for new solutions
The Santen Group aims to build a society that is inclusive to all, regardless of visual impairment. As part of initiatives toward that aim, we conduct "Blind Experience" sessions inside and outside the Group, where visually impaired employees give lectures to help attendees deepen their understanding of visual impairments and to teach them about the importance of communication. Outside the Group, we conduct Blind Experience sessions targeting people from a wide range of age groups affiliated with various organizations, including government bodies, educational institutions and companies. Meanwhile, inside the Group, we provide Blind Experience sessions as opportunities for employees to renew their recognition that the value of the Group's business activities lies in its initiatives to solve social issues related to the eye health of people around the world. When conducted at educational institutions, Blind Experience sessions have resulted in changes in how the participating children act. Although the children seemed to hesitate at first because they did not know how to interact with the visually impaired lecturers, after the classes finished, they approached the lecturers on their own and volunteered to assist the lecturers in moving. On Blind Experience sessions held inside the Group, many participating employees have commented that the sessions have helped them reconfirm Santen's CORE PRINCIPLE and understand patients' viewpoints.
After a Blind Experience session, children rush and speak to the lecturer.
Interviews with Visually Impaired Employees as Blind Experience Lecturers
We interviewed visually impaired employees of Santen as Blind Experience lecturers.
- Have you noticed anything while conducting Blind Experience sessions?
I have noticed that, although many people without visual impairments actually want to help visually impaired people when they encounter them, they do not know what to do because there are no visually impaired people around them, so many of them do not take any action.
- What advice do you give to session participants based on the facts you have noticed?
I advise them on the importance of speaking to visually impaired people. Their first-hand experience with blindness in particular helps the participants fully recognize the importance of doing so. It is difficult for visually impaired people to perceive the situation around them and who are around them, and where they are. I say to the participants that, if they come across a visually impaired person in trouble, they should speak to that person, and, because that person is the expert in how best to help him or her, the participant should just ask the visually impaired person what they should do, in order to find a solution.
- What value do you think Blind Experience sessions can offer to the participants?
I believe that I have been able to give the participants a surprise or discovery by actively sharing with them what I can do naturally. Many people are indifferent to or ignorant about disabilities and impairments. The first step they should take is to learn about disabilities and impairments. I believe this is a massive step toward reducing the psychological barrier between people with and without disabilities or impairments.
- Do you have any particular message to the participants to reduce this psychological barrier?
I keep in mind to say to the participants that even blind people can do many things and are making daily efforts and devising effective ways to become able to do what they cannot do now. I believe that my attempts to have the participants understand that there is no difference between people regardless of whether or not they have disabilities or impairments, and to interact with them while viewing blindness as a kind of individual characteristic, have provided the participants with a discovery or surprise.
- Finally, what kind of society do you want to achieve?
I would say that I want to build a society where visually impaired people can serve as ordinary social actors and live a fulfilling life with peace of mind. I believe that efforts to build such a society will lead to fostering awareness that any people in trouble should be helped regardless of whether or not they are disabled or impaired.
Some day, I want to build a society where there is no concept of "disability" or "impairment," and all people can enjoy their own lives by helping each other. I believe that building such a society requires we—the visually impaired—to begin by having the opportunity to express ourselves to other people and share our experience with them.