Thursday 24 August 2017

Dialogue in the Dark review

I've lived in Melbourne for 30 of my 34 years. I've come to know the city quite well in that time with many places serving as a reminder of an experience I've had every time I visit it. But what happens when you can't see that place anymore? Dialogue in the Dark takes us on a simulated tour through some well known Melbourne locations with a twist: the tour is conducted in total darkness. Led by blind guides, we must touch, smell and hear our way around places that were once familiar to us.

Our host provides us with a white cane and we enter the pitch black venue fumbling in the darkness as we slowly making our way to our guide who is calling out to us. She introduces herself as Lauren and she sounds young - or younger than me at least. There's a warmth and confidence in her voice and I start to feel more secure in my surroundings, whatever they may be.

Lauren explains that we will be taking a 60 minute tour throughout Melbourne and we follow her voice as she takes us to our first destination. We feel our way around and listen for any distinctive noises but unfortunately our guesses of a tropical rainforest don't seem quite right. With a few hints from Lauren we ascertain we are at Birrarung Marr. As the tour progresses, we become more attuned to the noises around us as well as our touch and being able to identify the objects we come across.

While we're initially able to laugh as we walk into a wall or try not to trip each other over and guessing badly at what objects we are feeling, we begin to realise that for many people this is life and it is quite a sobering thought. It begins to raise many questions for us, and fortunately Lauren is all too happy to answer them. How do blind people top up their myki? How do they know what denomination they're giving/receiving? How do they vote anonymously? Simple tasks that we take for granted become a constant challenge for blind people and those with low vision.

While this experience highlights the difficulties that blind people experience on a daily occurrence, it also shows their need for independence and to be considered as part of our community and not an extension of it. People who are blind can - and should - still experience this world.

Dialogue in the Dark has been operating for more than 25 years across 39 countries globally and Australia is the 40th country to participate in the program with each country creating its own city specific experience for visitors. While the video below was released over a year ago, it is an accurate description of what you can expect. If you ever wanted to experience the world through a different perspective, then don't miss out on Dialogue in the Dark.

Dialogue in the Dark is presented in partnership with Guide Dogs Australia and bookings can be made via Tickemaster.

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