Can you imagine exploring the world around you by only touch, sound and scent? Kendall Odom from UC Santa Barbara shared her “invisible” experience and how eye-opening it can be to see without sight.
The main part of the exhibition was an interactive tour with a guide through a series of rooms that were completely dark. We would enter the room and start feeling around and listening to decipher what the space was supposed to be. We traveled through a forest, street, bathroom, room of statues, and many others. Everyone in our group was freaking out at the beginning because we really couldn’t see anything, but over time people got more used to the situation. However, even by the end making our way through the rooms was still extremely challenging. In one room we sat at a bar and ordered drinks and it really hit me just how difficult blindness makes everyday life: picking up a drink and making sure you don’t spill it, paying for something without being able to see your money, getting on public transportation and knowing which bus or tram is the correct one. All tasks I barely even think about that can cause a great deal of difficulty for someone without sight, and might even be impossible in certain situations.
Throughout the tour (and in between tripping over various objects), we were chatting with our guide. Conversation in the room was completely different, because you couldn’t see the person you were talking to and you needed to focus on other elements like where their voice was coming from. Taking eye contact out of a conversation definitely changed the way it felt for me. At the end we learned that our guide was blind, and the main reason he works in the exhibition is because it’s extremely challenging for him to get a job anywhere else. That seems so unfair to me, even though I can understand the logic behind it. I feel extremely grateful for the opportunity to go through the exhibition and have an open conversation with someone who has been dealing with blindness for many years, and I’m glad the exhibition reminded me not to take my sight for granted.
Kendall Odom, USAC Prague, Czech Republic