Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dialogue In the Dark

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.


  1. I think of all the senses, sight is the one I would miss most severely. Gosh, we take so much for granted and I'm sure that was such an enlightening experience for you. Talk about walking in someone else's shoes!

  2. My mother after living 78 year with full sight became blind with macular degeneration. So for the final 5 years of her life, she was legally blind. I was in awe of the way she carried on.

  3. Wow. What a unique experience. I have often wondered what it would be like not to have sight in a city like ours. I always feel a sense of awe and respect when I see someone making their way around with their dog, and/or walking stick. Powerful.

  4. It would be so very frightening to lose my sight. Don't we all take it so much for granted? Interesting exercise in empathy, Jojo!

  5. Without one of the 5 senses, the other 4 are heightened. How wonderful that you make time to volunteer and what a wonderful post to share walking in dark -in a whole new light.

  6. Wow! That must have been an amazing experience. I don't know how people do it. I do Meals on Wheels, and for a long time I had a client who was blind and lived alone. She was an impressive lady.
    Interesting post!
    PS. I'm so glad you're playing in next week's blog party!

  7. Wau Jojo, I applaud you to give yourself over and trust your guide in leading you. This must not have been an easy task, especially in the beginning.

    During my 2nd pregnancy, I was forced to spend some time in a wheelchair and I tell you, I learned a great deal from that experience as well. We take so much for granted and seldom have any idea what those with handicaps must be facing on a daily basis. Sometimes I think we are the handicapped individuals!