The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) arranged for a dining room to be filled with elegant dinner tables, each set with silverware, carefully folded napkins and, most importantly, sleep masks. The masks were necessary accessories for Halifax’s first Dining in the Dark event, a fundraiser where attendees share a meal blindfolded in support of CNIB.
The meal was served with a powerful message, raising both funds and awareness of the experience of living with some form of blindness. For many attendees, it was their first opportunity to experience a daily activity from the perspective of someone who is visually impaired. People anticipate based on sight. One of the biggest points of the event is to have people do a task that they take for granted. Following soup, a choice of chicken or vegetarian entrée and an educational speaker, diners tested their tasting skills with a surprise trio of mousses for dessert. The foods were picked that would be easy to handle without sight. No baby carrots, joked one organizer. She had tried eating those at a similar Dining in the Dark event earlier in the year and found them very difficult. I was shocked at how challenging it was, she said. It was really satisfying when I finally got it. And I was really tuned in to how the others were doing around me. The dinner was a great opportunity to learn more about vision impairment. You realize that, for them, everything takes a little bit longer, whereas, I can eat in my car and on the go, said an organizer.