Santen, JBFA and IBF Foundation Form Long-term Partnership for an Inclusive Society
An innovative, 10-year partnership agreement that aims to achieve long-term stability of sports management for the advancement of diversity and inclusion in our society
October 28, 2020, Osaka and Tokyo, Japan – Santen Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (hereinafter, Santen), NPO Japan Blind Football Association (hereinafter, JBFA) and International Blind Football Foundation (hereinafter, IBF Foundation) are pleased to announce a 10-year long-term partnership agreement between the three parties for the early realization of an inclusive society.
● Background to the conclusion of this partnership agreement
JBFA and IBF Foundation are making various efforts to improve the quality of life ("QOL") of the visually impaired. In 2019, Santen collaborated in support of the "IBSA Blind Football Asian Championships 2019" with an aim to popularize blind football, raise public awareness of vision impairment, improve people's QOL and build a society in which everyone can lead fulfilling lives regardless of visual impairment.
In addition, this year marks the 130th anniversary of Santen's founding and we have drawn up a new long-term vision and set three long-term strategies for realizing our “WORLD VISION - Happiness with Vision, which is the ideal world Santen aims for. Partnership with JBFA and IBF Foundation is positioned as an important action "Inclusion", which is one of these three strategies.
From this backdrop, the three parties have agreed to form a long-term partnership with an eye towards 2030 and solving the various issues surrounding "eyesight" on a global scale.
Furthermore, with greater understanding of the significance and importance of parasports for the future of our society, we will look to continuously promote the values blind football brings to society by providing long-term support to the operations of blind football competition organizations.
● Shared vision: Bringing down the walls between those who can see and those who can't, turning society into a stage on which anyone can shine.
There are a number of issues that arise from the sighted and the visually impaired not fully understanding one another. With this long-term partnership agreement, Santen, JBFA and IBF Foundation will use blind football as the starting block to facilitate the societal participation of the visually impaired through a variety of channels including visually impaired sports, creation of new professions, and participation in innovations, and have set the following shared vision (vision illustration below).
Under this shared vision, the three parties shall set the following three goals and use blind football as the starting point in providing numerous platforms that encourage the mutual understanding between the sighted and the visually impaired on each other's strengths:
- Sharing experiences to understand each other's differences and strengths
- Create innovation in "seeing"
- Improve the quality of life for the visually impaired
By doing so, we will look to achieve a sustainable and inclusive society where we all respect each other's strengths and play an active role together regardless of visual impairment.
We support the principle of "Leaving no one behind" in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and we hope to contribute to the 17 SDGs as well through this long-term partnership.
Comment from Shigeo Taniuchi, President and CEO of Santen Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.
There are many issues surrounding the visually impaired. These include how the world is built on the premise that we can see, how there are few employment options and how there are lasting unconscious biases. This long-term partnership agreement could be seen as the first step towards the realization of our ideal WORLD VISION. Using blind football as the starting point, we will solve societal issues and build a world in which both the sighted and the visually impaired can interact and live in the same manner. We also intend to expand this partnership to a global scale.
Comment from Shiro Shiojima, President of the Japan Blind Football Association
We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Santen for its support in various ways, including sponsoring various international competitions and cooperating with the “Help Consultation Counter”. We are very excited to see the beginning of this innovative alliance to develop blind football together over the next 10 years. We sincerely hope that this partnership will be the cornerstone for the cultural integration of not only blind football but also parasports as a whole.
Comment from Eigo Matsuzaki, Representative Director of International Blind Football Foundation
Through blind football, this partnership will look to promote the sport and solve societal issues related to vision. Another big characteristic of this partnership is that its vision is a global one and isn't limited to Japan. Having drawn this 10-year contract, we are excited by the possibilities it brings in terms of the wide range of mid-to-long-term activities we can take part in. We would like to thank everyone's efforts to reach this point.
Under the shared vision of "bringing down the walls between those who can see and those who can't, turning society into a stage on which anyone can shine", the three parties will involve various stakeholders and work to realize an inclusive society.
As a specialized company dedicated to ophthalmology, Santen carries out research, development, marketing, and sales of pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter products, and medical devices. Santen is the market leader for prescription ophthalmic pharmaceuticals in Japan and its products now reach patients in over 60 countries. With scientific knowledge and organizational capabilities nurtured over a 130-year history, Santen provides products and services to contribute to the well-being of patients, their loved ones and consequently to society. For more information, please visit Santen’s website (www.santen.com).
About NPO Japan Blind Football Association (JBFA)
The JBFA is the central governing body for blind football and low-vision futsal, and it works with the vision of "realizing a society where the visually impaired and the sighted mingle as a matter of course.”In parallel with activities to promote and strengthen competitions, the JBFA is developing diversity education programs for non-handicapped individuals that take advantage of the nature of sport. Awarded the 2018 Asahi Sports Award. For more information, please visit the association's website at http://www.b-soccer.jp.
About International Blind Football Foundation (IBF Foundation)
IBF Foundation was established on January 11, 2019, with the vision of "Blind Football Can Eliminate Disability". The foundation's aim is to improve the quality of life of the visually impaired around the world by making blind football a sport widely played internationally and contributing to the organizational strength of national sports organizations. Through blind football, the foundation works to solve the three elements of disability (impairment, activity limitation, and participation restriction) as defined in the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health by the World Health Organization ("WHO"), by taking the following three approaches: (1) Intermediate support activities, (2) Cooperation with partners, and (3) Acting as an independent business.
• Shared vision: Bringing down the walls between those who can see and those who can't, turning society into a stage on which anyone can shine.
We will set the following three goals over the next 10 years to embody the creation of an inclusive society.
1. Sharing experiences to understand each other's differences and strengths
By expanding the field of shared experiences through blind soccer/low vision futsal, we will dramatically increase the number of people who recognize visual impairment as a strength.
2. Create innovation in "seeing"
Bringing new services for the visually impaired and new vision professions through innovations to "seeing".
3. Improve the quality of life for the visually impaired
Ultimately, we will look to eradicate society's unconscious bias against the visually impaired and allow societal participation regardless of whether one's vision.
Our Long-term Partnership Vision and Story
Bringing down the walls between those who can see and those who can't,
we will turn our society into a stage on which anyone can shine.
That's the kind of society we're aiming for.
Data shows that approximately 2.2 billion people worldwide have a visual impairment.
And yet, for many of us, visual impairment remains a vague concept.
Vision problems are becoming increasingly common with even sighted people, or people who aren't visually impaired, wearing glasses or suffering from dry eye syndrome.
Furthermore, our eyes deteriorate as we age and we all end up having issues with our vision, some more severe than others.
Nobody is immune to the possibility of developing life-changing conditions such as glaucoma or cataracts, and vision impairment may be lurking just around the corner.
It could be said that we live our lives in the constant presence of visual impairments.
The systems and mechanism of our society are built on the premise that we have good sight, but this often goes unnoticed by those who can see.
Examples of how good sight is used as a premise include:
• No voice guidance or braille for important documents, procedures and guides
• Not giving way without considering the possibility that the other person may be visually impaired
• Work and qualification opportunities are extremely limited for the visually impaired
• Necessary information isn't easily accessible due to support systems for the visually impaired both in the private and public sector.
Additionally, on a global scale, there are a great number of issues including:
• Underdeveloped ophthalmic medical infrastructure causing otherwise curable eye diseases to worsen due to lack of early treatment
• Insufficient support structures for the visually impaired, causing them socio-economic distress
• Even refractive errors such as myopia aren't sufficiently corrected, greatly impacting learning and employment.
Losing your eyesight can place a psychological and physical burden on your life.
That's the kind of society we live in.
This is caused by complexly intersecting problems.
From the perspective of those who can see, there aren't many opportunities to even realize the existence of these problems as it seems only natural to them that the world is built on the premise of people being able to see and they are unable to shed their unconscious bias against those who are different.
And yet, from the perspective of those who are visually impaired, "feeling handicapped", "not having as many choices for work" and "not being able to go out freely due to psychological and physical anxiety" are examples of real issues that aren't always easy to speak out against.
Our belief is that these problems between sighted people and people with a visual impairment arise from the fundamental issue of neither party being able to see from the other's perspective.
Santen, JBFA and the IBF Foundation have partnered in order to build a bridge between these two sides, to move forward hand in hand with the visually impaired in solving these societal issues.
The starting point is blind football/low-vision futsal.
Providing a level playing field on which the sighted and the visually impaired can physically compete without needing to pull any punches,
the perfect arena for a collision of body and soul, sport takes the cohesion of individual differences to a higher dimension and brings an abundance of possibilities.
But that isn’t all.
We realized that this field could also become a field of possibilities where a new kind of "seeing" can be experienced to overcome the current reliance on visual information.
By using sports such as blind football and low-vision futsal as our starting point, we will build a bridge that allows the visually impaired to participate in various aspects of society through sports, new professions and innovation.
Specifically, we will expand nation-wide, international and virtual opportunities to experience blind football/low-vision futsal where both sighted and visually impaired people can understand each other's strengths.
Sports allow people to fit in, reducing the number of people with unconscious biases.
Next, we will establish an innovation hub in collaboration with companies involved in visual impairment.
By incorporating the perspective of the visually impaired into this partnerships of private companies, NPOs, local governments and schools, we can come up with completely new services.
These will also lead to more opportunities for the visually impaired to participate in our society.
Blind football/low-vision futsal will also serve as a testing ground for innovations.
The new services born from it will serve to expand the scope of accessibility to services that were hitherto inaccessible to the visually impaired and look to create new professions that make use of the strengths of people with a visual impairment.
Through these activities, we believe that we can increase areas in which both sides can mix and push each other forward.
Specifically, we will look to achieve the following three goals:
• Sharing experiences to understand each other’s differences and strengths.
By expanding the field of shared experiences through blind football/low-vision futsal, we will significantly increase the number of people who recognize visual impairment as a strength.
• Create innovation in "seeing"
Creating new services for the visually impaired and new vision professions through innovations in "seeing".
• Improve the quality of life for visually impaired people.
Ultimately, we will look to eradicate society's unconscious bias against the visually impaired and allow societal participation regardless of one's vision.
Differences in "seeing" provide countless avenues of possibilities.
We will work with people with a visual impairment and take advantage of their point of view to bring down the walls that are unconsciously constructed between the sighted and the visually impaired, building a world in which we can live together.
Bringing down the walls between those who can see and those who can't, we will turn our society into a stage on which anyone can shine.
That's the kind of society we're aiming for.