Imagine that all the lights go out…
That is the tagline for the Invisible Exhibition – and that is exactly what happened to me and 5 others, when we stepped into complete darkness.
The Invisible Exhibition, located in the Millennium Park in Budapest as well as in Warsaw and Prague, is a unique interactive 1-hour tour of everyday settings in an invisible world; a rare insight into the world of the blind.
Our tour guide was a cheery young girl, who is blind. Before the tour started, she showed us how to play games and even how to write and read our names in Braille, a tactile writing system used by blind people. We wrote our names and she read them by running her finger over small dots on paper. It was fascinating to see.
We then went into the room in total darkness, where we were led through several places and situations that blind people meet in everyday life; in a house, at a market place, crossing the road, in a pub etc. We were told to use our other senses – mainly touch – to figure out where we were and what things were in the different rooms. In the market place, we touched real fruits and vegetables, trying to guess what they were. When we had to cross a busy road, we were led by our guide and taught how to use mainly our hearing to get over.
At one point, when we were in a garden, I got a bit lost and was very disorientated. During this situation, I really got to experience and understand just how difficult being without a full vision can be. It was only with the help from another girl in the group that I got over a bridge to join the others.
It was so dark that we couldn’t even see our own hands, giving us an authentic insight into a blind persons life.
I think that everyone can Imagine what it’s like to be blind, but how many of us actually realize what blind people go through every day? It’s important to remember that blind people aren’t victims and don’t like to be seen as such. The most important lesson that I learnt at the exhibition was to NEVER grab hold of a blind persons hand to help them over the road etc. They have done this millions of times before and grabbing their hand to “help them”, will only cause confusion and discomfort. It’s always okay to want to help, but asking if a blind person wants help, is the best thing you can do.
Before coming to Budapest, I knew that I wanted to visit the Invisible Exhibition. When I was in Poland in September, I met a girl on the train from Gdansk to Warsaw, who told me about the exhibition in Warsaw. I tried to find it there, but without luck, so I decided to give it another go in Budapest, despite it being a good 4 km. walk from my hostel.
So, did an hour of blindness open my eyes? It most definitely did, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the life of a blind person. It was very enlightening and made me realize just how lucky I am to have a full sight – but also that life doesn’t end, if blindness someday occurs.