Gain Incredible Insight From Someone Without Sight


You’ve seen it before: electronic distractions in meetings, individual and team obstacles, rambling e-mails, and the lone rangers can all hamper workplace communication. What if you had a way to remove subjective listening, siloed decision-making and visual distractions from your team’s day?

Introducing the Art of Blinders Workshop

This multi-sensory, experiential, team-building communications workshop addresses four of the most common communication issues in corporate America:


Introduction Video for Art of Blinders

Imagine More Effective Teams

Imagine a typical morning at the office. Fifty unread e-mails flash at you from one monitor while a half-written project proposal waits on another. Your eyes fall on the stack of unopened mail piled on the desk beside you, and you glance up at the calendar pinned to the wall above it. You don’t even notice the sticky note hanging from the side of your printer as you turn back to the computer. Then, your phone lights up with an incoming meeting invite, and you take your eyes off one screen to look at another. Our lives are so full of flashing screens and scrolling text that when the phone rings, we barely have the attention left to hear who’s calling. Even as you pick up the desk phone and begin talking to the person on the other end, another e-mail comes in, and your eyes stray back to your computer screen. What were the last five words your caller just said?

What if there was a way to turn off most of that distraction and focus on the content of a conference call? What if there was a way you could hear yourself from your customers’ perspective? What if closing your eyes during a meeting was a tool rather than an excuse for a brief afternoon nap? Mike Hess is the executive Director of the Blind Institute of Technology, a non-profit organization which connects job-seekers with disabilities to employers in search of talented hires. One of his most effective tools is the Art of Blinders workshop, a team-building experience designed to showcase the effectiveness of listening in a world full of visual distractions. The sessions address the pitfalls of unconscious bias while teaching participants that putting on blinders isn’t always a bad thing.

Through stories and videos, Mike takes the audience through the neuroscience of how vision can trick the mind. One exercise involves having the audience watch a video full of distracting images. The audience is asked questions such as, “Where did the man in the video work?” Puzzled glances dart around the room as people look to their neighbors for an answer. Next, he asks the room to put on their blinders, cloth eye-masks handed out at the start of the workshop. Another visually distracting video plays, and Mike asks the audience to recall details spoken aloud during the clip. With the visual distractions removed from the experience, participants are able to accurately recount specific dates and statistics from the video. Throughout the exercises that follow, Mike shows participants how much information they miss when vision is dominating their interactions.

Art of Blinders isn’t just about videos and stories. Participants pair with partners and rearrange into small groups throughout the workshop, engaging in communication exercises where content is key. By the end of the session, the audience learns the consequences of ineffective communication and discovers how much more smoothly projects flow with direct, concise instructions. Putting on blinders isn’t about blocking out the world around you, it’s about letting the rest of the world in. By the end of the workshop, participants learn how to unlock a new wealth of skills to create a more engaged and focused version of themselves.

Walk Away With a Toolkit of Skills, Resulting In:

  • Improved staff morale and retention
  • On-time and on-budget projects
  • Improved quality of information for customers and suppliers
  • Increased productivity, innovation, and creativity
  • Fewer, shorter meetings
  • Less confusion and communication blockers
  • Better problem resolution

Learn How to Maximize Four Sightless Principles to Improve Communication

Using Blinders

Avoid visual distractions. The visually impaired community has no visual distractions when listening. Distractions, even subtle ones, can interfere with listening, understanding and successfully completing tasks. How much better would your team actively listen if they learned to ignore visual distractions?

Urgent and Clear Communication

Clear up ambiguity. Effective communication is paramount to the visually impaired community’s success. Instructions and other communications can be easily misinterpreted by teams without clear and concise directions. In fact, poor communications can cost an organization between 25-40% of their annual budget due to lack of clarity, wasted time and projects being delivered late or over budget. Honing clarity and heeding urgency can elevate success.

Identifying Obstacles

Remove unseen obstacles. Knowing about obstacles is key to the visually impaired community successfully moving about. Clearing away obstacles is also key to successful teams.

Collaborative Communication

Eliminate competitive behavior. The visually impaired community knows that collaboration is more effective than individual efforts. For example, collaborating with a sighted person to cross a busy street. How might your team’s results increase when you collaborate more often?

Program Information

Program Format

Each participant will complete an action plan during the workshop that includes concrete steps to improve their communication skills. Interactive discussions, teambuilding exercises, hands-on activities and a little Hollywood magic help participants:

1. Understand how poor communication costs them literally and figuratively

2. Learn to leverage these advanced sensory communication skills or “Sightless Principles” to become more effective communicators and listeners

Program Cost

BIT offers a variety of onsite or offsite workplace programs to meet your needs. Choose from a ninety-minute lunch and learn format or bring your team together for a half-day workshop.

90-minute lunch and learn – $2,500
Half-day workshop – $5,000

Custom programs are also available!

“I wanted a workshop leader who would embody our principles, reinforce our message, and engage our leadership team on a personal level. Mike exceeded all of my expectations. He effectively demonstrated that most obstacles in business can be overcome using the sightless principles of communication he has used all of his life. Our leadership team was invigorated and motivated to take Mike’s sightless principles back to their teams. Mike’s talk re-ignited their passion to truly take ownership of their markets and continue making a difference in our company and with our partners” -Rick Smith, CEO BioScrip, Inc.
“Mike brought an incredible insight to our group about the power of concentration, in using all your senses to really focus on the moment rather than the endless distractions of life. We all need to put blinders on to bring our teams together to work more consciously.” -Art Zeile, CEO HOSTING
“I thought the Art of Blinders workshop was very good and insightful. The session clearly illustrated how ineffectively people may be listening even when they actually believe they are and how important effective and focused listening can be to the success of a task or project. — Sr. Director Engineering and Strategic Planning, SourceGas
“Mike’s ‘Art of Blinders Workshop’ is phenomenal. It forces its participants to think about their everyday interactions in a completely new way and from a very different perspective.” —Timothy J. Brannigan, Assoc. Chief Information Officer Denver Health & Hospital Authority

Meet Your Workshop Leader

Mike Hess, Founder and Executive Director of BIT

Prior to BIT, Mike Hess was an IT professional for eighteen years, making over six figures in the corporate world because he consistently brought in multi-million dollar IT projects on-time and on-budget – a rarity in today’s world. With over 62% of the visually-impaired community educated but unemployed, Mike was in an unique situation.

So what made him so successful? His communication skills. He was able to listen with superb acuity and discern what customers really wanted by using his advanced sensory communication skills, developed due to his blindness. According to Mike, “A sightless point of view to listening brings objectivity, focus and clarity – crucial elements to effective communication.”

Under Mike’s leadership, BIT has helped secure job placements for BVI candidates with DaVita, Aetna/iTriage, Comcast, Denver Health and many more companies and organizations in the healthcare, financial services, telecommunications and other industries.

about us footer

The Blind Institute of Technology™ (BIT) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing workforce development and inclusive employment solutions that prepare people with disabilities, and the employers who hire them, for success in the workplace.

Led by Executive Director Mike Hess, BIT aims to help solve the unemployment and diversity and inclusion epidemic among people with disabilities by reducing barriers to employment through education, preparation, employment placement and accessible technology initiatives. Our vision is a world in which people with disabilities have the same employment opportunities as their peers.