Inclusive Society Santen Promotes
Activities to raise public awareness for building society which inclusive to all regardless of visual impairment.
- Inclusion Strategy in the Three Strategies
- Santen 2030 and 10-years Partnership
- International Initiative
- BLIND EXPERIENCE
Inclusion Strategy in the Three Strategies
Santen's materiality framework comprises three strategies and four areas of ESG materiality. In the strategy of Inclusion, one of our three strategies (Ophthalmology, Wellness, and Inclusion), we aim of building society that is inclusive to all regardless of visual impairment. To achieve this goal, Santen is exploring possible new solutions, particularly those that use digital technology, as we work to promote awareness and understanding of visual impairments, move forward with projects that allow people with and without vision impairments to enjoy themselves together sharing a sense of the same values, and improve the quality of life for people with visual impairments.
Santen 2030 and 10-years Partnership
Santen and the Japan Blind Football Association (hereinafter, "JBFA") signed a partnership agreement in March 2017. The company entered this agreement sharing JBFA's vision: "Through blind football, we hope to create a unified, borderless society for all"; and its mission: "We strive to contribute to the enjoyment of life for everyone involved in blind football." We continue to support JBFA's activities by serving as a sponsor of the Japanese National Men's and Women's Blind Football Teams and assisting the association in providing opportunities to exercise and engage in sports for visually impaired children, who have few such opportunities, and holding diversity education programs for elementary and junior high schools. In 2019, Santen supported an international blind football competition, the first endeavor for the company. During the IBSA Blind Football Asian Championships 2019, held in Pattaya, Thailand, we conducted activities, including holding blind football experience programs for local visually impaired children and supporting championships operations in the participation of Santen employees who had come together from around Asia to work as volunteers. In March 2020, the company signed a long-term three-party partnership agreement with the International Blind Football Foundation (IBF Foundation), which supports international blind football competitions with the aim of helping solve social issues related to visually impairments around the world, and JBFA. The agreement will last until FY2030. In addition, this long-term partnership is named "VISI-ONE", and in October 2020, shared vision "Bringing down the walls between those who can see and those who can't, turning society into a stage on which anyone can shine" has set. With this long-term partnership agreement, Santen, JBFA and IBF Foundation will use blind football as the starting block to facilitate the societal participation of the visually impaired through a variety of channels including visually impaired sports, creation of new professions, and participation in innovations.
The company 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
Santen values BLIND EXPERIENCE as an idea, not only a training experience. This approach improves people's awareness and understanding of blindness and visual impairment through the experience of not being able to see. As a result, it eliminates unconscious bias and dissolves the barriers between visually able and visually impaired people. We have fun and share values together. We will continue to search for new solutions to improve quality of life.
Through BLIND EXPERIENCE, we are challenging ourselves to achieve four major goals.
- Fostering the mindset of society as a whole
The basis of our activities is to change society's overall perception of the visually impaired and the ideas of the visually impaired themselves.
- Linking healthcare-welfare
Attempting to bridge the gap from ophthalmic medical care, which many visually impaired people visit, to welfare.
- Support for economic independence
Support that encourages independence for the visually impaired, who often have difficulty achieving financial independence.
- Dissemination of solutions
Promoting solutions that will bring happiness to the visually impaired and those around them.
Interviews with visually impaired employees involved in BLIND EXPERIENCE
We interviewed visually impaired employees of Santen involved in BLIND EXPERIENCE.
Have you noticed anything while getting involved in BLIND EXPERIENCE?
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.