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23 April, 2021

Totally unique and mind-altering dining experience

CAIRNS Young Woman of the Year Amy Cooper has thrown her support behind an innovative concept designed to address high unemployment rates amongst blind people and raise awareness of the challenges they face every day.

By Nicole Gibson

Cairns Young Woman of the Year Amy Cooper with Peter Schleifer from Dialogue in the Dark.

The Dialogue in the Dark concept offers participants an immersive experience where they are led by a blind guide through everyday tasks like going for a walk, visiting a restaurant or going shopping, in the complete darkness.

Amy, who is legally blind, said she became involved with Dialogue in the Dark Cairns after becoming aware of staggering unemployment rates amongst the blind.

“I heard approximately 80 percent of visually impaired and blind people are unemployed so I think it’d be amazing to get some more people involved in an opportunity like this,” Amy said.

The concept is an initiative by local charity IKSPS INC who are currently fundraising to launch their first experience ‘Taste in the Dark’ by the end of this year.

IKSPS INC President Peter Schleifer said ‘Taste in the Dark’ is a fun dining experience where participants are served by blind waiters in a completely dark restaurant.

“Taste in the Dark is an experience but it is also fun,” Peter said.

“You cannot see if you have something on your fork so you have to rely on if you feel like you have punctured something and that creates laughs and funny situations.

“So, you go there, you have a fanatic meal, you have fun but at the same time you learn something about what blind and vision impaired people go through on a day to day basis.”

While the initiative is new to Cairns, Dialogue in the Dark began in Germany in 1988 quickly becoming a highly successful social education tool which now has chapters in 41 countries worldwide.

Peter said the experiences have been instrumental in changing societal perceptions of not just blind people but those living with a disability.

“Ninety-eight percent of people perceive it as a very positive experience,” he said.

“They now know how it must be and it gives them a change in their outlook on disabled people in general, not only for blind people but how they approach, disabled people, for the inclusion of disabled people in society.”

Amy, who was born blind, said she hoped the  experience would lead to improved interpersonal relationships and a greater an appreciation amongst sighted participants.

“I hope people get more of a look into what it’s like but I also hope have they have fun doing it and it leads to better friendships or better work relationships,” she said.

“I hope they also get an appreciation of what it’s like for other people and have a deeper appreciation of what they have is when they come out of the room, they’re like, oh, I can see the sun.”

The group are holding a fundraising event at Slap and Pickle on June 2. For more information visit the Dialogue in the Dark Cairns Facebook page or search Dialogue in the Dark at givenow.com.au to donate.


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