I recently attended an enjoyable and informational Dining in the Dark event hosted by the Foundation Fighting Blindness with my wife Kathy and colleagues.
We all had an enjoyable experience at this valuable event. In my opinion one of the highlights of the evening was listening to the many outstanding researchers, doctors and entrepreneurs talking about their fight to cure certain types of eye diseases and the tools they have developed in an effort to help fight blindness.
Another key highlight of the evening was to allow the attendees to experience what it would be like to be completely blind. To assist with creating the appropriate environment, when it was time to be served dinner, all the lights were turned off and all possible light sources were completely blacked-out to engulf the room in complete darkness. None of the attendees were allowed to leave their seats once the lights were turned out during dinner, to help prevent injuries of untrained attendees attempting to walk in complete darkness without the proper orientation and mobility training a person who is blind would receive. When the lights were out I was told it was so dark that you could not see your hand directly in front of your face. I am completely blind and this complete darkness is normal for me.
Waiters who were blind/ visually impaired served our meals in the complete darkness, and then the fun began. I listened to the exploratory and inquisitive voices of the others at our table attempting to determine what was on their plates, and what we were all eating. My technique is to feel the texture and shape of the food from the feedback in my fingers from the utensil touching the food. I can tell the shape of the food by the sensation, and the sound of the utensil touching the border of the food compared to the plate surrounding the food. From a combination of the smell, taste and texture I can mostly tell what I am eating. Comparing our non-visual clues with others at our table, we were able to determine what we were eating. I listened as I heard the others at my table working through their challenges of dining in the dark. Since I have been completely blind for a few years I had no trouble during the Dining in the Dark experience. Soon others at my table asked me my techniques to help them find the food on their plate in complete darkness, which I graciously provided some tips to assist. I believe this type of event is invaluable to allow all of us to get a very short glimpse of what it is like to be completely blind and increase blind / low vision awareness.
Has anyone attended a Dining in the Dark event and want to share your experience and describe what was most valuable to you? Even if you have not attended such an event from my description, what do you think you would learn from experiencing such an event? How would events like Dining in the Dark or any other disability awareness events increase your awareness of people with disabilities, enabling all to work more effectively to enhance relationships and productivity in our professional careers and personal lives?
I hope everyone can have the chance to experience a Dining in the Dark event.
We all look forward to hearing your comments and experiences.
Global Dialogue Center