Before the actual day of the tour, I visited the Dialogue in the Dark’s official website in the hopes of preparing myself for what to expect on the actual tour. After briefly reading through what the tour was about, I was initially skeptical of how the tour described itself as “exciting” when it was 1.5 hours long, with activities that seemed pretty mundane.
But of course, the experience itself definitely proved me wrong right from the get-go. I couldn’t help but feel completely helpless, having to hold dearly onto my walking stick when surrounded by total darkness. And I think it is safe to say that I experienced pitch black for the very first time here, not being able to make out ANYTHING at all. I think going through the first few minutes was especially unnerving, because it felt like I wasn’t even physically in the space even with my other senses when I’m just blindly following the motions of moving.
I think I only got slightly more used to maneuvering around only when I detect that the places were what I was used to, like the traffic lights or the boat as I was able to refer to my own memories to stimulate the space in my head. It was still hard nonetheless though; it either took me a while or not at all to associate what I was touching with what it was, not having the convenience of seeing the big picture at all times. Figuring out the words out of cursive blocks was a killer.
This of course made me realise how fortunate I am to have seen things, as even in the dark, I still hang onto the images of my memories to help me move around. I think my privileges come across more apparently when our guide told us that those who were born blind would not even be able to register that darkness is pitch black unlike us; they have no prior experience of light nor darkness to relate back to. This was definitely a weird fact to wrap my head around and remind me again to appreciate the things I take for granted before it gets taken away. (hopefully it doesn’t happen at all)
Another moment that stood out to me was when we weren’t responding much, our guide told us that she doesn’t feel like she exists when we all don’t talk. This was ,in a way, a very impactful reminder of the importance of communication in every other situation, even more so in our studies in design. Even though it has been said a thousand times already but it still slips from my mind that the very purpose of creating design is to communicate a message to those who interact with it.
With all that said, an eye opening experience would be a befitting way to describe this tour as it not only created an immersive experience for me to emulate a snippet of the everyday lives of the visually impaired, it also made me reflect and remind me to be more aware of my place and experiences in our society as well as the power of design and its ability to communicate in different ways and forms.