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November 19, 2012

SUNY Optometry’s Class of 2016 Does ‘Dialog in the Dark”

In October, the Class of 2016 attended "Dialog in the Dark" as part of their first year Integrative Seminar Class.  The exhibit is co-sponsored by the Lighthouse International at the South Street Seaport.  The event provides first hand experience of navigating blindly through New York.  As their web page states, it is "An unforgettable experience, the Dialog in the Dark exhibition bring you face-to-face with New York City landmarks -- in complete darkness...you'll discover a new way to "see" New York by its unique sounds and smells, textures and temperatures.  And here's the twist - your guide is visually impaired."

Each student was taught to use a cane and was guided trhough a mock up of Central Park, Fairway Market, the New York City subway, and, Times Square.  At the end of the hour-long tour, the participants were able to see their visually impaired tour guide and ask questions about their visual impairment, what life is like for them, how they navigate the world, etc.  Each student was asked to write a reflection on their experience.  Here are just a few quotes:

"The experience gave me an incredible appreciation for the sense of sight and how the other senses take over when vision is lost.  The experience was unforgettable and I have the utmost admiration for all those who go about their everyday lives without being able to see."

"I walked away realizing how important communciation is to being a good clinician."

"The experience really increased my appreciation for vision.  I also recognize how important it is to preserve the vision of my patients.  The guide provided some insight into how current technology has progressed to aid the blind.  It sparked some ideas in me on possible improvements."

Unfortunately, the Dialog in the Dark exhibit experienced storm damage from Hurricane Sandy and is currently closed.  There are plans to reopen.  This is the second year that SUNY Optometry's students participated in the event.  The Class of 2015 participated last year.  It's become a tradition for the first year class to attend as it teaches many important lessions to the future optometrists.