Our Gallery at One Market just set up twelve new exhibits that come under the heading of Design in the Public Interest. These exhibits feature products, places, and processes where design is used for common good instead of monetary profit. In a series of twelve blog articles over the next few weeks, I thought I would pick them off one at a time. Our first one is See Better to Learn Better.
- Autodesk Inventor // more
The See Better to Learn Better program outfits children in Mexico with free, durable eyeglasses in fun, customizable colors. The program has supplied eye exams and a customized pair of glasses to students, 6-18 years old, since its founding in 2010. When it comes to eyes, the i's have it, because these glasses are:
For those of us stuck with less than perfect eyesight, a pair of glasses may seem like a curse, but imagine what a huge gift it is to a child who has been sitting in the back of a classroom, unable to make out the instructions on a chalkboard or even the words of a favorite book. For a child like this, eyeglasses can mean the difference between staying in school and dropping out — the single biggest factor in determining a person’s life course.
Here are some eye-opening facts:
- 90% of the world's visually impaired live in developing countries.
- 50% of children currently living in Mexico need glasses.
- 12 million children, ages 5 to 15, are visually impaired by problems that could be erased with corrective lenses.
- 10% of children in Mexico are not learning at all because they cannot see.
It’s not just the educational and economic opportunities that a pair of glasses provides — it’s also the little, ephemeral things. Consider these excerpts from thank you letters from children who have benefited from the program: "I can see that grass is made of blades!" one child exclaimed. Another wrote, "Now that I have glasses, I can see my mother, and I can see how beautiful she is."
The designers at fuseproject, the San Francisco-based product design firm behind the One Laptop per Child project, understand that aesthetics aren’t just an elite concern. Children the world over are connoisseurs of cool. That’s why, after plenty of fun in the design studio, fuseproject chose to create two-part frames — fully customizable with seven top and bottom colors that can be mixed and matched. With five shapes and three sizes to choose from, children become their own designers. All that versatility didn’t boost the price either; the total cost of an exam and a pair of specs is just $10 to the participating organizations and, importantly, the production and manufacturing are local, creating jobs. fuseproject also added interchangeable nose pads, so that children of any size can wear the glasses comfortably, and used advanced Grilamid plastic to make sure the frames were as flexible and durable as possible. In fact, when Béhar brought the prototype pair to the director of Augen Optics, he immediately sat on them — "just to see if they were as robust as they needed to be," Béhar recounted, laughing. They passed the test.
Thanks to Global Content Manager, Matthew Tierney, and Brand Marketing Manager, Grace Hom, for content contained in this blog article. This is just one of the many exhibits in the gallery at One Market in San Francisco. The gallery is open to the public on Wednesdays from 12 pm to 5 pm, and admission is free. Visit us.
Eyesight is alive in the lab.