This past Saturday, one of my sorority sisters from college and I headed to New York City for a fun-filled day. First up on our agenda was to visit a unique exhibit in the seaport area called “Dialog in the Dark.”
Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures to go along with this post because the exhibit takes place in absolute darkness. The purpose of “Dialog in the dark” is to show you what a day might be like for a person that is visually impaired and how they must rely on their other senses to maneuver around the city. Prior to entering the exhibit, we had to lock up all of our valuables and check our coats. Then we were handed walking canes and shown how to use them.
Prior to entering the exhibit, you are brought into an acclimation room, where they explain what some of the visually impaired must deal with everyday in the city. Then the room goes completely black and you are introduced to your guide(who is visually impaired).
I will have to admit, when the room went pitch black, I was a little scared. what if I fall? What if I hit someone with my walking cane? Our guide was very adept at keeping track of our group as he led us through the exhibit. We were able to experience a subway ride, going to the grocery store, walking through central park, up and down stairs, and even crossing the street in about one hour.
The scariest part for me was when I got separated from the group for a while. I already have hearing issues, so I was sort of freaking trying to figure out how to find my group without falling down. But there were some really cool parts of the experience as well. I felt my good ear functioning better as well as my sense of smell heightening. They did a good job of making the subway smell like an actual NYC subway…lol
At the end of our experience, the lights gradually came back on and our guide shared with us how he lost his sight. He told us it happened when he was thirteen. He remembers running with one of his friends and then some lights coming towards him. The next thing he remembers is waking up in a hospital blind. He found out that a drunk driver had run into him and his retina’s detached. At first, he was really depressed. He thought, would I ever be able to get a girl? What if she wasn’t cute? But he finally got back to living and has adjusted quite well without sight.
Being vision impaired, even if it was only for one hour and not my whole life, gave me a deeper respect for those that are. It was scary navigating with just a cane and sound. It was like I had no control over my environment, which totally freaked me out. How would I know how to cross the street? Take a subway? Get back home?
I highly recommend this exhibit for anyone who truly wants to get a sense of what it means to be visually impaired.
You can find more about the exhibit by clicking here.