The RNIB in Derry work closely with staff at the Northwest regional college learning support service, to ensure that courses and services are accessible for blind and visually impaired people who decide to study there. Yesterday evening they held an awareness event for the staff and students of the cookery department. Dining in the dark is an opportunity for sighted people to eat a meal blindfolded, to get an idea of what its like having a visual impairment.
Yesterday’s event was very well organised. Before we were seated, I worked with an RNIB employee to teach the students who would be waitressing sighted guide. When everyone was blindfolded, the students led them to their tables in the restaurant. Each table had around eight staff members, as well as a person with a visual impairment. There was a braille menu on each table. . The food was beautiful and the students did a great job at explaining where things were and helping people if they needed it. After the meal, blindfolds were removed, and we had a short discussion pannel to hear what everyone thought of the experience. Myself and three other people who are visually impaired answered questions.
I talked to someone recently who said they didn’t think disability simulation was a good idea, since it isn’t a true representation of what its like to have that disability. I can see where they are coming from, but surely doing it in a fun event like this can’t do any harm. If it makes people stop and think for a while, and makes them more aware of issues that blind people might encounter then it has achieved something. It’s something I’d like to do again, maybe as a fundraiser or just with family or friends for fun. I know
from the US ran a very successful ‘night without sight’ fundraising event recently.
During dinner people said that they became more aware of background noise when they were talking to each other. They took their time eating and took much smaller spoonfuls, sometimes empty spoonfuls! My two favorite points during dinner was when someone drank the wrong coffee by mistake, and when the waiter asked the man beside me if he was finished, and he replied, “I don’t know, am I?”
After I did the radio interview with Mark Patterson at radio Foyle last month, a dog groomer rang in to offer O.J a free groom. I brought him to
this afternoon and Michael did a great job. It was a very kind offer and I really appreciated it, and will take both dogs back there in the future.
I’ll have a series of guest posts on the blog next week for the first time. They are very interesting so check them out.