Ask all participants to recall any experiences they have had of blind or vision impaired people and to write down three that made the greatest impression. Experiences could include living with a blind or vision impaired family member, having a blind friend or even coming across a blind character in a movie or a book.
Lead the discussion with a view to teasing out the implications for daily living which arise from the participants' experiences and impressions.
The aim of this activity is to illustrate the importance of correct interaction and sound direction-giving.
A good blindfold - perfectly opaque.
What to do:
You need three people for this activity: one blindfolded, one carer guiding the blind person and one attendant serving the others. The blind person and companion approach a service desk where the attendant is busy writing. The service person gives them no eye contact and says nothing to them. The carer finally speaks up and asks "Can my friend have some help?" The attendant then asks the carer "What does s/he want?" The carer replies "Just some information." Attendant continues to ask carer questions and carer stumbles through answers. Frustrated, the blind person speaks up and says s/he wants to know where the audio books are. Carer wanders off at this point, and attendant says, pointing, "Over there, next to the reference section" then begins shoving person in their direction. Blind person looks uncomfortable, asks carer the time, but carer has gone off, so no reply. (Blind person actually only wants to know their location for future reference, has no time to look today, hence asking carer the time)
This activity should be fun. It illustrates the wrong way to interact with a blind person in a simple situation and leaves much scope for humour in acting it out.
Open ended questions designed to highlight problems with this interaction. What were the issues? What strategies were used? Were they successful? Why/why not? Involve the "actors" in the discussion. How did they feel?
The mistakes of the attendant should be highlighted and the difficulties they cause discussed: not making eye/verbal contact to say? "With you in a minute?" so blind person knows there is someone in attendance; not introducing himself/herself; talking to carer, not the "blind person; inappropriate spatial directions; walking away without saying s/he is doing so. Note also carer's errors: walking away, not introducing blind person and guessing the exact need instead of allowing him/her to speak initially.
Run the role play again, this time doing everything correctly.
To provide skills in negotiating and verbally describing an environment, and to reinforce the need to consider placement of objects (which can become obstacles) when designing environments for people with vision impairments.
A room with several occupied chairs and one or more vacant chairs. The odd obstacle on the way to the chair, and/or the chair facing in an unexpected direction. Door to room left half open.
What to do
This activity requires two participants, one blindfolded. The unblindfolded one uses a combination of physical assistance and verbal cues to direct partner to a vacant chair in the room, starting from outside the room. (The vacant chair should not be in a direct path (it should not be on an aisle, or too easy to get to). Guide does not ask where the "blind" person might like to sit, grabs arm and pushes "blind" person through half-open door (probably banging their nose), does not describe the path being taken, says "look out" instead of "stop" at a major obstacles, when chair is reached, spins "blind" person around and pushes them into the seat, leaves without explanation.
What issues arose? How were they dealt with? Were these strategies successful? How did the participants feel?
Highlight the mistakes in this scenario: pushing the "blind" person instead of offering elbow, half-open door, obstacles in the way, not asking for a seating preference, not describing the situation (for example, only one chair available), "look out" instead of "stop", leaving without explanation.
Repeat the scenario, correcting all mistakes.
To demonstrate key issues with vision impairment in an everyday situation.
You will need:
Sufficient blindfolds and simulation spectacles. The usual morning tea provisions.
What to do:
Blindfold some members of the group, give others tunnel vision spectacles or cataract spectacles. Some of the group should remain "unimpaired". Go to, and through, the whole of morning tea, and back to the workshop, like this. Discuss the event afterwards.
What were the issues? How did the "blind" participants feel? What about the sighted participants? What strategies were employed for coping/assisting? Which ones worked, which didn't? Why?
This exercise should demonstrate that some people will need help, some won't. Different individuals will need different levels of help. Everyday tasks can be quite difficult, but with the right thought and assistance, can be made easier for people with vision impairments. Strategies learned in the other activities about sighted guide techniques providing clear verbal cues and directions should be employed in this exercise.
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