Views International is an organization whose devotion it is to aid visually impaired and blind people to integrate and adapt as best as possible to the sighted world. However, it is equally important to show sighted people the problems, needs or advantages of a visual impairment. To reach that goal Views International organized some local events and invited the sighted to take part in them. The most recently passed was our popular “Dinner in the dark” in the beginning of March.
On the 1st and 2nd of March 2019 the Institute Royal handicap hearing and de la vue (IRHOV School) opened once again its kitchen and its Gym to all those who had reserved their table for the dinner, Views International and all its volunteering helpers. The menu of the day had been prepared in advance by three students of IRHOV and only waited to be served by the volunteers who transported the food tray from kitchen to Gym. None of the visitors knew what to expect. Neither the menu nor the program of the day had been stated in advance. To not push too hard neither on the visually impaired helpers nor on the participants themselves, the evening started with a reception in the well- lit entry hall of the school. Here the groups had the possibility to take a drink and some snacks, to get to know each other and their waiter/waitress or to ask some further information on Views International, IRHOV or the program of the evening.
After that friendly greeting it got dark for our participants. One group after another was called into the darkened gym. To insure they don’t get lost on the way and to help them find their table and places, their waiter or waitress had the obligation to guide them. They walked in long rows, touching each other’s shoulders to not get lost. When they reached their destination, everything was dark. To keep the orientation by sight was not possible anymore. So, our participants were forced to rely on their hearing, their senses of smell and taste and their sense of touch. All these senses wakened to an unexpected level and opened up totally new dimensions of perception. Their waiter /waitress stayed always by their side. They took the food for their table from the food tray deliverers, ordered and served the drinks for their group and answered their different questions on orientation or living with a visual impairment. This exchange filled the time before and between the arrival of the meals. There were 3 courses in total to surprise the guests.
The biggest challenge of the evening was the dinner itself or better said the eating of the dinner. Not knowing what is on your plate makes eating in the dark undoubtedly harder. Additionally, blind and partially sighted learn some small tips and tricks to facilitate the eating in the dark such as: “Feel and search with the knife before you use your fork”. Although that doesn’t sound like much it can make things a whole lot easier. While the evening passed, the participants had to tackle a mushroom toast with green salat, fried sausage with potatoes, cabbage and green beans and homemade tiramisu as desert. In the little quiz we made a lot of participants manage to name all those things successfully