Well, as some of you may already know, October is “Meet the Blind month. The purpose of this month is to help educate the public and create greater awareness of the capabilities of people who are blind. Additionally, October 15th is “White Cane Safety Day” which recognizes the use of white canes by blind individuals.
Across the country, groups of blind and low vision individuals and their friends and family observe this month through various outreach activities such as participating in public events, speaking in public venues like schools, civic clubs, church groups, and so forth, passing out literature, hosting meet and greets, and volunteering service in their communities . So, I’d like to invite you to join with me and others in helping to provide public awareness this October. There are lots of simple, easy things you can do in your own area too. Here are a few easy ideas we as blind individuals or friends or family of blind people can do to help spread awareness to the public about the capabilities of the blind. So, get a group together and get going! I’d love to hear what you do to observe this month.
*Create a bulletin board with a blindness theme to display in your school. You should also consider making this an accessible and “blind-friendly “ bulletin board,a.k.a. tactually appealing and dual media with print and Braille. (for ideas, visit the education page at the NFB Jernigan Institute at www.nfb.org)
- Pass out “Braille Party Mix” and a Braille alphabet card to your neighbors, friends, colleagues, classmates, co-workers, etc. Braille party mix consists of the following:
- 6 pieces of round candy like “Dots”, M and M’s, or Reeses’Pieces=the six dots in a Braille cell.
- Pretzel sticks= the stylus
- Cheese nibs crackers or other similar looking crackers with holes and ridges = the Braille cell or a slate
- Alphabet Cereal= print letters being translated into Braille
- Fruit roll-ups= piece of paper
- Spotlight a blind student or adult in your school/community at a public event such as a church or civic club meeting, school assembly, class, etc. This can also be a Q and A session with a blind person about how he or she does various tasks with non-visual techniques.
- Pass out Braille alphabet cards along with your Halloween candy. These can be obtained from blindness organizations like the American Printing House, the National Federation of the Blind, or the National Braille Press for free or for a small nominal fee.
- set up a volunteer experience at a public service venue such as a food pantry, nursing home, hospital, etc. This will be a great way for us as blind individuals to “give back” and can also provide a unique opportunity for the public to see the capabilities of those with vision impairments.
- Set up a table and time to Braille names on index cards in a public place such as school lunchroom, outside a store, public library, flea market, fair, farmer’s market, etc. People are fascinated by Braille and will love getting a copy of their name in Braille. You can also hand out Braille alphabet cards at the same time.
- Pass out literature about blindness in your neighborhood, school, business, etc. This could include things like Braille alphabet cards, or general blindness facts or FAQ’s about Blindness (you can generally get this kind of literature from a blindness related organization).
- Participate in a tailgating event at a school football game. You can pass out Braille literature, Braille people’s names, and have blind people serving the food.
- Participate in a local Halloween “’Trunk or Treat” event wherein you set up lawn chairs in a parking stall instead of a car and pass out candy and Braille alphabet cards. Decorate your canes or guide dog and yourself instead of your vehicle in Halloween décor.
- Volunteer to be on a speaker’s list at your local library or to read stories in Braille at a children’s story hour.
- Give a presentation to your school class about an influential blind individual such as Helen Keller, Louis Braille, or Dr. Abraham Nemoth. You could even come dressed like this person and pretend to be him/her telling his/her story.
- Make a sign to display in a window of your home or vehicle that recognizes “Meet the Blind Month or the capabilities of the blind. For example, it could say, “I’m the proud parent of a blind child”. Or “Sight is not a requirement for Success.”
- Make a t-shirt with a positive message about blindness written on it which will promote discussion by those who see it when you wear it. For example, it could say something like, “I’m blind and I am a _____ (fill in with something which is stereotypically unlikely to be done by a blind person like “a dancer, skier, black belt,” etc.)
I hope these ideas have inspired you to get out and help spread the word about “Meet the Blind “month. I’d love to hear other ideas from you and/or the things you are doing to observe this month. Happy “Meet the Blind Month!”