So, after going back and forth about deciding if we wanted to try this, we finally decided to go to Dialogue in the Dark. This is a world-wide exhibit (over 6 million people in 25 countries) that has now made it's way to the U.S. Me and four other friends were a bit nervous about it but looking forward to it as well.
When we first arrived, we were given a cane along with a few instructions on how to use it and then lead into a room with light boxes that we sat on - slowly the boxes dimmed until we were in complete darkness (and I mean COMPLETE darkness - we could not see anything at all). We were then introduced to our guide, who is blind, as all the guides are. She instructed us to follow her voice which lead us into a room.
Right away I could feel grass beneath my feet and heard birds chirping so I knew we were in a park. She said we had to find the park bench and meet there. Using our canes, we walked around, over a little bridge, and I found a trash can, some trees, a pole and a wrought iron gate/fence and the park bench! It is pretty amazing that you knew exactly where you were by the sounds and feel of things. After everyone found the bench, she instructed us to follow her voice again and we went to another room.
Once in there, I smelled a citrus like smell and wasn't sure where we were until I started feeling around and felt a bag of rice and then a juice bottle. I realized we were in a grocery store. I found some beans, an open container of coffee beans, an open container of spiral pasta (and felt some crunching on the floor), I then could tell that I was touching a package of napkins and wrapped roll of paper towels. Someone said "oh, suckers" and put one in my hand to feel and I could tell it was a dum dum pop. Then we followed her voice again.
We were now in another room and this one was a bit more tricky (the rooms got more difficult to navigate as you progressed). I realized I still had the sucker with me but there was no way I could go put it back - oh well. This time we had steps to walk up and had to find a seat and we found were were on a boat. There was a boat captian that asked us where to go and we shouted Venice so he started the boat and you could feel it swaying (I was getting a little sea-sick feeling) and then you heard the seagulls and felt the water spray on your face a bit. Then we had to get off the boat and walk down the steps. Again following the voice of our guide.
Now this was the most intense room - very noisy - lots of traffic noises, cars honking, concrete drills, people talking - senses overload. I stepped up onto a sidewalk and found a mailbox and a garden hose and then a bicycle and some netting that felt like netting on a construction site. I found the front of a car and headlights, among other things. I eventually found a rail and a trashcan. She said the rail should be on our right side and it was when I faced one way but when I tried to walk around it, I bumped into a wall. If I went the other way, I bumped into a trash can that I couldn't go around. I heard the voices getting more and more distant and thought I was being left behind. I decided to just go under the rail.
Now we were in a bar/cafe. We could order drinks and a few ordered some soft drinks and we heard a money identifier (you put the money in it apparently and it tells you what kind of bill it is) I never saw it, of course, but just heard it. Once seated, we could ask the guide any kind of question (personal and all). She lost her sight 13 years ago as a result of not taking care of her diabetes. She had to go through 2 weeks of training and learn the path/rooms backwards and forwards, etc. She did mention that because of her diabetes, she had numbness and such in her hands. I can't imagine. One things I discovered is that I relied on my sense of touch and hearing much more, especially my sense of touch. I don't know what I would have done if I could feel around to get my bearings. She said she relies on her sense of smell the most.
It was quite an experience and I recommend it - it really does make you more aware of your senses and the kind of things that blind people must deal with.