The Center for Vision Loss recently held their annual A Taste of Shadows event at the Green Pond Country Club in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Attendees at this event all had to wear blindfolds with their dinner. This event took place on October 13th.
"A Taste of the Shadows" was intended to help people without visual impairments understand the daily issues people with visual issues have to go through everyday. While all of the attendees could take their blindfolds off once dinner was finished, all of them left with a greater sense of appreciation for the amazing gift of sight.
Guests were led into different tables by a few employees who served as helpers. These un-blindfolded helpers were stationed around every table to ensure none of the guests got hurt. The helpers also assisted guests who were really struggling to find their food or drink.
The blindfolded attendees sat around the table and began their course with rolls, butter, and water. Many people found it very difficult to pour the water from the pitcher into their glass without spilling some on the tablecloth.
The visual helpers recommended that each blindfolded guest keep his/her elbows on the table throughout the meal. They said that by keeping elbows on the table people can set a reliable frame of reference. Also, it was recommended to slowly slide hands across the table to avoid knocking anything over.
After a short while, the salads were given to each of the blindfolded participants. Most people just stabbed their fork into the bowl and hoped for the best.
When the main course arrived, which was tarragon chicken with broccoli and risotto, guests found that they couldn't complain about whatever got onto their forks. Some people who did not care for broccoli couldn't tell what was on their fork until they got it into their mouth. This served as a great reminder that people who are partially or completely blind often cannot distinguish their food until they actually eat it.
After dinner, guests were able to order a hot beverage. Those that had coffee were given creamers and sugar on the side. The helpers let the guests know where they were by using clock positions. Most guests decided to keep their hands on their mug's handle so they were sure never to lose it.
After they were finished with their after dinner beverage, these guests were finally allowed to take off their blindfolds. Helpers then passed around different glasses that simulated other visual impairments. These glasses included the experience of glaucoma, cataracts, and even diabetic retinothapy. Once the guests were finished experiencing these glasses, the Center for Vision Loss staff hosted an awards ceremony for various employees.
Interestingly, the people that took part in this blindfolding challenge told reporters that they actually felt very "alone" during this dinner. Although there were many people all around, and although their sense of hearing was heightened, not being able to see and interact with others made them feel very isolated.
Of course, all of the guests also said that this experience helped them appreciate the struggles ordinary people with visual impairments go through every day. It made everyone in attendance value the work Pennsylvania's Centre for Vision Loss does for the visually impaired in the local community.