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How ‘One World: Together At Home’ Reached the Blind and Deaf Communities

One World: Together At Home was an eight-hour event across digital and broadcast platforms that was designed to celebrate workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response, highlight acts of kindness, and provide some relief from the anxiety and isolation so many of us are feeling because of the pandemic.

Marginalized communities have been particularly impacted by the devastating effects of COVID-19. As part of the One World: Together At Home broadcast special, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter warned of the virus’ disproportionate impact on black communities, while Kieren Barnes of Mercy Corps talked about the additional hardship it has inflicted on Syrian refugees. The lesson? Those who have been marginalized in the past are feeling it even more now.

The blind and deaf communities are among the populations who are vulnerable to the new social conditions in the age of COVID-19. 

COVID-19 has limited the independence of those in the deaf-blind community, whose reliance on touch, not only for errands but also for a sense of human connection, now poses a greater risk of infection, ABC News reported

Building on previous support of disability campaigns, Global Citizen connected with deaf-blind advocacy organizations in order to make One World: Together At Home accessible to those who are hearing- and vision-impaired. 

The Deaf Professional Arts Network (DPAN) streamed the broadcast special on their online channel DPAN.TV alongside a live ASL interpreter. DPAN’s sign language-accessible version of the event channeled the organization’s mission to “make music and music culture — the prominent shared language and experience of people worldwide — universally accessible by extending its reach to the deaf and hard of hearing.” 

Thanks to support from our partners at Procter & Gamble, Global Citizen and One World: Together At Home broadcast partners also teamed up with Be My Eyes, an app that provides enhanced viewing experiences for visually-impaired individuals. Procter & Gamble has worked with Be My Eyes since 2019 to provide a platform for vision-impaired people to access their brands like Olay and Herbal Essences. This builds on P&G’s long history of inclusion commitments to touch and improve the lives of all consumers, including those with disabilities.

Global Citizen worked with Be My Eyes to create a One World: Together At Home specialized help profile on their app that allowed blind users anywhere in the world to call specialized volunteers for help accessing the show. Over 60 volunteers, recruited from P&G, Verizon, and other companies, answered calls for assistance throughout the show and delivered more than 13 hours of personalized descriptions to users in 15 countries. A full audio described version of One World: Together At Home is also available on the Be My Eyes YouTube channel

Susan Walker, global design manager for P&G, volunteered to provide descriptions through Be My Eyes and worked with a young woman throughout the show. 

“[She] said she felt so disconnected at this time…She was so happy just to talk with someone,” Walker said. 

Users who regularly rely on Be My Eyes also described their experiences receiving audio descriptions as valuable and engaging. 

"It was wonderful to be able to experience the One World concert using Be My Eyes and having terrific audio description of what the musicians were wearing, what their homes looked like, what type of art they had on the walls, and really any detail I was interested in. It made the experience so much richer than just listening to it,” Gena Harper, a Morgan Stanley wealth advisor, said. 

You can read more about the communities most at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic here.