Getting to Yes, And

Deana Criess: Improv for the Visually Impaired


Deana Criess

Subscribe on

Kelly talks to Deana Criess whose work at the Perkins School for the Blind has her teaching improvisation to the visually impaired.

You’ve said that improvisation says yes to the idea of ideas. What do you mean by that?

“I say that a lot, I say it a lot in a corporate training context and in an educational context. So the idea that I'm trying to get across to those populations is that we often spend so much time just deciding whether we should do a thing, right? And if we have an improvisational mindset, what we agreed to from the get go is we're going to say yes - we're going to say yes to whatever it is, and that doesn't mean that every idea gets greenlit and we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on it or that we spend a year teaching kids something that doesn't work, it means that we agree to try.”

You’ve also written about the need to be others focused as an imperative to creating the right solution sets.

“What improvisation allows us to do is actually live in the moment. The idea is that we should be right here, paying attention to this moment.
Every movement matters, every word matters, every breath matters. And if that is true, then it allows us to actually tap into the person in front of us and what they need right then, instead of deciding ahead of time: ‘Oh, I know what you need.’Or listening to half the problem and assuming you have the solution. And, if that is true, then we can deliver a product, whether that is a therapeutic product or an educational product or or a product for a company that really is delivering on what they need.”

Tell us about the work you do at the Perkins School for the Blind.

“So the work that I'm doing is with adults. We have a program called career launch where we train adults in job specific skills and help them find work. We created the program because 70% - seven zero percent - of adults with visual impairments are unemployed. 90% of people who lose their side as a child will never have a long term job without intervention. So we created this program to help that crisis. And I'm using improvisation as a way to teach job skills and communication skills to the adults in our Program.”

Related Episodes