For some time now, an exhibit has existed in New York City that has forced participants to surrender the comforts of sight and enter a world of complete darkness–and maybe go through a market while they’re at it.
Dubbed, “Dialog in the Dark” the exhibit was originally started in Germany in December of 1988 by Andreas Heinecke. Heinecke was a journalist and filmmaker who developed the idea through an adult blind friend who was newly blind.
There is also an exhibit that was started in Atlanta in 2008 by Premier Exhibitions, but it was recently closed in March. Altogether there are 20 other exhibits around the world.
Romeo Edmead, a Ziegler Magazine writer, is a guide for Dialog in the Dark and knows a great deal about the New York exhibit. The exhibit takes place at the South Street Seaport Exhibition Center and includes five unique scenarios for participants to experience. The five scenarios include a park, a market, a train, Times Square, and a café. The exhibit is meant for sighted people who would like to know what it’s like to be blind and involves seeing and experiencing the real places, including smells and sounds that you would take in if you went to the actual place in New York City.. The exhibit begins with an introductory video of how to use a cane. The exhibit itself is dark–sighted people can’t even see who’s in front of them. They are dependent on the voice and the instruction of their blind guide and the visitors get to envision sites and sounds through the world of a blind person. They get to experience the New York subway, Times Square with the traffic and street vendors, and a local supermarket. The exhibit lasts about an hour and ten people at a time are allowed to go through.
Romeo first heard about Dialog in the Dark through a friend. “I wanted to move on to a better job so I applied for a position at Dialog in the Dark and I got it,” he said. When he was first hired, he had to participate in a month-long training program. He was trained by the tour guides from the Atlanta exhibit, after which time they trained on their own for the next two weeks.
According to Romeo, people have been very receptive to the exhibit. “There have been several people who have come back to the exhibit several times,” he said. “It really shows how successful the exhibit has been.”
Dialog in the Dark is a great exhibit because it teaches sighted people how the blind travel without sight using their remaining senses. It also serves to eliminate stereotypes about the capabilities of the blind when a sighted person can walk in our shoes and truly see how we can continue to lead full lives without sight.
For more information on Dialog in the dark, you can call 1-888-926-3437. They are located at the South Street Seaport on 11 Fulton Street next to the Bodies Exhibit. Weekday ticket prices are $36 for adults, $29.00 for children and $31.00 for students.