Canon brings accessibility to photography with World Unseen

The groundbreaking exhibition and film series in partnership with the RNIB was created by VML UK

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director Creativebrief


Photography is one of the most creative and powerful tools for storytelling, but how do you adapt that medium to tell stories to the visually impaired?

This is the creative challenge which sits at the heart of a new video series and photography exhibition, which you do not need to see, from Canon Europe.

Created by VML UK, the World Unseen exhibition will be held at Somerset House in London between the 5th and 7th of April, in partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).                                   

The World Unseen campaign launches with four films, which will go live across the Canon website, with social teasers on Meta platforms and Canon’s owned channels ahead of the exhibition itself.

The video series dives into the personal stories of visually impaired individuals; including expectant mother, Karen Trippass, British disability activist, Lucy Edwards, North America’s only blind conservationist, Lawrence Gunther, and British Champion Skier, Menna Fitzpatrick.

Photography is an incredibly powerful medium that can push the imagination and we want this experience to be accessible to everyone

Pete Morris, Brand and Sponsorship Senior Manager, Canon EMEA

Communication through demonstration

Through conversations with renowned photojournalists and an ultrasound practitioner, the films follow a blind mother-to-be as she feels the outlines of her baby scan, while others feel imagery through detailed braille descriptions and life-like textures.

The work demonstrates the power of communication through demonstration imagery to transform our world, capturing the raw emotion and impact of individuals experiencing photography in this tactile way.

The films are powerful demonstrations of the inclusive imagery on show at the World Unseen exhibition. The experience has been designed for and with blind and partially sighted people, using elevated prints, immersive audio descriptions, and braille. All are focused on the goal of ensuring that as many people as possible can appreciate it.

Sighted people, too, will gain a better appreciation of the partially sighted experience from the images. Each will be obscured in ways that simulate different types of visual impairment, from glaucoma to diabetic retinopathy. While the exhibition raises awareness of the importance of accessibility in arts and cultural spaces, it also draws attention to how inclusive design makes experiences better for everyone.

The project builds on Canon’s long-term focus on inclusion and accessibility. The brand has been making the arts more accessible for blind and partially sighted people for many years, supporting many art galleries and museums globally with tactile printing and braille signage. However, this event marks Canon’s first completely accessible, immersive experience.                                                                

“Photography is an incredibly powerful medium that can push the imagination and we want this experience to be accessible to everyone. This exhibition was created with blind and partially sighted people in mind to share imagery and the stories behind them in an entirely new way. With Canon’s elevated print technology, we hope all visitors will feel a deeper connection to the emotions and stories that imaging can bring to life,” says Pete Morris, Brand and Sponsorship Senior Manager, Canon EMEA.

The exhibition will feature works from world-renowned photographers and Canon ambassadors, including multi-award-winning South African photojournalist Brent Stirton and renowned Brazilian Photojournalist, Sebastião Salgado.

San Sharma, Creative Director at VML UK added: “World Unseen makes photography more accessible and immersive for everyone. And, in doing so, it changes the way sighted people understand the visual impairment experience. It’s a privilege to work on a creative idea that means so much to so many people, and I hope it inspires others to be more inclusive in their work too.”             

VML UK has worked closely with Canon Europe and RNIB to ensure all elements of the World Unseen campaign meet accessibility standards, including website pages, video audio descriptors and the exhibition experience.

Dave Williams, Inclusive Design Ambassador at RNIB, concluded: “The World Unseen exhibition opens up the world of photography and enables more blind and partially sighted people to experience the emotive stories, and physical touch, of these iconic images. As a braille user, it’s fantastic to be working with Canon to raise awareness of the possibilities of textured print and to see in action how technology can make art more accessible for people with sight loss.”


Tickets for the exhibition are now available here.

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