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Dine in the Dark from the Perspective of a Visually Impaired Diner

Last week I attended a dinner during which all guests were blindfolded. Throughout November these events are organised nationwide by Dine in the Dark Ireland to fundraise for The National Council for the Blind and to raise awareness about blindness and possible obstacles people with visual impairments can encounter in everyday situations such as eating out. Several Galway restaurants hosted a blindfold dinner and our tandem cycling group The Galway Visually Impaired Activity Club visited The West Restaurant in The Twelve Hotel in Barna. We are a mixed group of visually impaired and sighted people. The pilots, who usually steer the bikes, were curious what it would be like to reverse the roles.

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Tina blindfolded

As a visually impaired person, I use my remaining sight to the maximum. I adjusted quicker to the darkness than my sighted dining companions, but it was still challenging. I was tempted to use a big spoon only. Since I didn’t see the food on the plate, I was tempted to use my hands to find out what and where it was. Feeling the different textures and shapes would have compensated me for not seeing the colours of the ingredients, but it’s not considered “normal” in public. I automatically focused on touch, smell and taste to find out more about each dish.

A sighted friend told me, she felt as if the room got smaller, although she had seen it before putting on the blindfold. Several people found it hard to participate in conversations, because frequently more than one person was talking at the same time, and without making eye contact they weren’t sure who was talking to who.

Dine in the Dark events are not 100% authentic simulation of what it’s like to be blind. Like me, most legally blind people can see light and shade or movements.

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Group photo of diners without blindfolds

We had great fun during our dine in the dark experience and the sighted diners got a general idea what it can be like to be blind, and in the dark it was probably easier to ask us visually impaired people honest questions about how we manage in everyday life. I already look forward to dining in the dark again next year and I definitely recommend it.

To find out if you can still attend a dine in the dark event near you this year visit: dineinthedark.ie

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