People who are visually impaired or blind face different obstacles when it comes to eating meals. And for guests of the Elliot Lake Lions Club ‘Dining in the Dark’ dinner on Saturday evening, the experience was described by some as “a challenge.” The guests were blindfolded during the meal of a salad and bun followed by a main dish of chicken, pasta and broccoli.
The master of ceremonies for the evening was Wayne Tuttle, otherwise known as “The Blind Guy.” Tuttle, used a humorous slant in his explanation of the different ways blind people, like himself, learn to eat without the benefit of vision. Simple initiatives such as setting a glass of water at the 12 o’clock position so the person knows where it can be found in the place setting.
For those who took part in the event, held at the Masonic Lodge, blindfolded guests were assisted by servers who explained to the guests where on the plate the various food items were located using the clock position for each item.
The salad proved somewhat difficult to eat in some cases because of the small tomatoes and salad leaves. The problem faced by some of the blindfolded guests was finding and retrieving parts of the salad.
The Lions hosted the dinner as a fundraiser for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). The event brought in $1,000 to be donated to the CNIB Sudbury.
Guests, Russell Foy and Michel Lahaie managed to clean off their salad plates without any mishaps, while another guest spilled some of the salad on his napkin. Eating a meal without getting spills is a concern often faced by blind people or those who are visually impaired, Tuttle said.
Another guest experienced some difficulty cutting pieces of the chicken into bite-size pieces.
He asked some of the guests to explain the experience. According to one guest, Ann, eating without seeing your surroundings and food was difficult.
“It was an experience where there’s no continuity,” she said. “You’re eating and putting food in your mouth and all of a sudden you have to stop and try and feel where you're cutting your food. It breaks up the enjoyment of the meal.”
Susan Kerr found that eating blindfolded meant she was using her fingers to eat which is something she is not accustomed to doing.
“It felt like it was really messy,” she said.
Tuttle said it’s common for blind people to use their fingers to eat meals.
Tuttle told guests about the variety of services available through the CNIB for those who are visually impaired such as braille and guide dog services which is a major project funded by Lions International.
He told those attending of his hobby as the, “one and only blind ventriloquist in the world.” However, because he had lost all his dummies in an accident when moving to Elliot Lake, he managed to convince Peter Fry from the audience to act as his dummy. A good-hearted Fry was outfitted with a costume and went through a comical skit with Tuttle that left the crowd laughing.
To round out the evening, the Lions hosted a successful dessert auction that raised $300 for the club.
Event organizer Helen Rae said she expects the Lions will hold a similar fundraiser next year.