What, Who, Why?

Missing one of the senses, blind and visually impaired people tend to develop a better sense of hearing and pay more attention to the quality of sound and acoustics. As Karl often became frustrated with the quality of sound at concerts, festivals or party venues, he decided to do something about it and exploit this unique strength of the VIP community to improve the level of sound quality and raise awareness on this topic.

Achieving the best possible audio quality is our motivating driver. Our core mission is to create an exceptional sonic experience for our audiences by organising musical events with the highest sound quality and musical excellence under optimal conditions.

This endeavor can’t be achieved alone, and Karl is so fortunate to be surrounded by a professional team, experienced partners and an excellent advisory board including some top people from the music industry, audio and acoustical engineers, and a world-renowned ophthalmologist. Among others, Lander Gyselinck will contribute from an artistic point of view, Sasha van Der Speeten will advise on marketing and communications, and prof. Dr. Bart Leroy (UZ Gent) will head the medical aspect of the project.
The proceeds of our events enable us to invest in the blind and visually impaired community by funding medical research aiming to cure blindness and providing career coaching and employment opportunities for blind and visually impaired people.

Medical Research

Picture a black dot in the middle of your field of vision, starting small, one in each eye, then expanding irregularly until it blocks the whole view.
Inherited Retinal Dystrophies (IRDs) are chronic and disabling visual disorders. Briefly put, the retina consists of millions of light-sensitive photoreceptor cells, which transmit light to the brain. IRDs cause these cells to gradually fade and die, losing the ability to transmit visual messages to the brain. IRDs impact millions of people worldwide. They usually begin to affect them in their teenage years, though it is usually unclear how soon and sudden their condition will deteriorate.
In Karl’s case, he was diagnosed with Cone-Rod Dystrophy (CRD), one of the many IRD’s, when he was 16. His mother was having trouble with her eyesight and turned out to have CRD, developing only late in life. So when Karl too was tested he was found to have inherited that particular gene mutation. Some years later, it started to affect his vision. For now, Karl has lost all of his central vision and is considered legally blind but retains useful, peripheral vision.
For decades, organisations like the Foundation Fighting Blindness have done tremendous work to fund and support medical research on blindness. Today the end result might be within reach, as gene therapies and stem cell research are in their clinical trials or inch closer to delivering the final treatment.

Part of rien à voir’s proceeds go to medical research through the IRD research department headed by Prof. Dr. Bart Leroy.

Employment

Slowly losing your ability to see is a distressing and traumatising experience. Things we love to see gradually fade away. Things we take for granted doing, like writing, playing games or riding a bike, become more difficult and ultimately slip beyond reach. To lose your driver’s license or find yourself unable to read or to recognise a friend in the street is, time and again, a harsh reality check, undoing any hopes you had nourished of the condition’s interruption. They also force you to adapt to the next phase of incapacitation, as mobility, communication and, most importantly, professional life need to be fitted into the new reality. The employment rate among the visually impaired is unacceptably low, for a variety of reasons.
Over 80% of blind people have no work and of those who work only 20% do the job they genuinely aspire to. The hard truth is the necessary employment support is often missing or unprofessional at best, and stereotypes make it very difficult for the VIP community to enter the labour market.
And yet, the possibilities to do so have incomparably improved over the last few decades: smartphones with GPS navigation have literally reopened the world to those who can’t see much of it. Speech technology makes interaction with devices, and ultimately people, possible so that becoming blind no longer needs to be the barrier to develop a fulfilling, professional career.
Building on his personal experience and his expertise as a career coach for Olympic and Paralympic athletes, Karl trains and coaches younger visually impaired people in identifying their career aspirations and developing employment strategies. Rien à voir’s proceeds are also used to finance the required material and possible employment opportunities to build the
necessary confidence.

With rien à voir, we want to use our experience, our passion for music, and the energy of people who want to get engaged, to make a difference in the world and positively impact lives of people with a visual impairment.

Superior sound – These are exciting times for anyone with an appetite for
music. From massive festivals to small local venues, from jazz to doom metal, the choice is all yours.
But if the quantity and quality of the music itself have improved, the acoustic quality of music events is often indifferent at best.

Rien à voir is out to offer its audience an experience where both sound and performance are of the highest quality. Why settle for less?

Sound with a vision – At an early age, rien à voir’s initiator Karl Meesters was diagnosed with an
inherited retinal disorder, knowing he would gradually turn blind. 
His appreciation for music has only increased with time. 
Now 39, Karl has come a long way in being able to live and work independently despite his visual
impairment.

He has been fortunate to have had family, friends, professional, medical and support staff around to help him along the way.

No less important, he came of age in an era of medical and technological breakthroughs that have
revolutionised what it means to be visually impaired.

Rien à voir is his way to give something back. Proceeds of events are invested in employment and
career coaching opportunities for blind and visually impaired people, and devoted to medical research
tackling blindness.