Maybe I haven't mentioned it before but I do a lot of volunteering. Volunteering and community service is a part of my job and I love it. Today my volunteering led me to a most unusual experience. The Center for the Visually Impaired needed volunteers to help work with visually impaired tour guides in practicing going through an exhibit in total darkness. Yes, I spent 2 hours with Terence my tour guide who is legally blind. We went down several different paths in total darkness. Our first stop was a garden. We walked on a squishy path, traveled across a bridge, sat on a garden bench and listened to a waterfall. The next stop was a supermarket. We had to find a shopping basket and then locate items on the store shelves. I couldn't really figure out if we were feeling juice bottles or containers of vegetable oil. If you can't see, how do you know? We took our things to the cash register and then left the store and crossed a city street!!! We then went through a door and reached a dock. I walked up a plank and took a boat ride feeling the experience and hearing sea gulls. Our last stop took us to a cafe where we sat and discussed my experience. My role as a volunteer was to go through with my guide and then offer feedback so that when the exhibit opens this weekend, the visually impaired guides are fully trained and can lead groups through the exhibit.
Let me just say that going through the "paths" in darkness was such a challenge for me. My guide just kept reminding me to use my guide stick to help me find obstacles and to follow his voice. It worked but I also found myself sliding my feet just to be sure I didn't trip on something. The whole experience for me was amazing. When I left the exhibition hall I was wondering to myself what it is like to travel as a blind person. I love traveling but without vision, travel becomes a very different experience unless someone is willing to help paint the picture for you. If you live in the Atlanta area Dialogue in the Dark is definitely something to you won't want to miss.