“Dialogue in the Dark (DiD) is an exhibition in which there is absolutely nothing to be seen”.
Blind and visually impaired guides take the visitors in small groups (8 people max) on a walk through a world of darkness in the 950 square meter exhibition. In the dark the participants are guided through everyday situations, which turn into little adventures, as they lose one of their most important senses: sight. In addition to the running exhibitions Dialogue in the Dark offers special attractions like Dinner in the Dark, where families or companies can enjoy a four-course meal, or Events in the Dark and Concerts in the Dark, where several artists perform music or shows.
Eva Kriechbaum (1986) and Helmut Schachinger (1967) founded the Sensations Austellungs GmbH (limited liability company) in 2009, which is the provider of Dialogue in the Dark in Austria. The aim of the social enterprise is to integrate people with a visual impairment into the first labour market and to raise awareness about the abilities of blind people. Blind people should not be seen as a vulnerable group. At DiD inclusion is being achieved by reversing the roles of blind and seeing people. Blind people are seen here as perfectly ‘normal’ people who have their own strengths, qualities and abilities.
“For many visitors the blind person on the street has no abilities, the blind person in the dark is the hero”, Anna, the HR Manager explains.
Dialogue in the Dark is organised as a franchise, Andreas Heinecke developed the concept, and the exhibition runs worldwide in 27 countries.
“But it’s not a typical franchise”, Eva Kriechbaum, Manager of Austrians DiD emphasises, “because the scope of free choices for the licensee are diverse”.
The corporate identity for example is suggested but not mandatory. Also, the legal form is not prewritten. However, some areas of the exhibition are required:
“All Dialogue in the Dark exhibitions have to have an area for nature, for traffic and a bar where the customers can order drinks and pay the bill in the dark”.
Furthermore, they have to ensure that the customers do not see their guide before the tour and that the rooms are really completely dark.
DiD is located in the heart of downtown Vienna. They rent a 950 square meter exhibition area in the cellar of the Schottenstift, an old monastery that was build in 1155.