“Where was I in the room? Who am I hearing at the next table?” asked Barbara, VSP employee.
Barbara, along with other VSP employees, had the opportunity to experience “A Dark Meal.” Participants ate a box lunch together while blindfolded, providing an opportunity to gain understanding, appreciation and respect for individuals who are visually impaired, and for the skills they use to navigate the world.
“As a vision care company, it’s important for us to understand all aspects of vision, including blindness and visual impairment,” said Kate Renwick-Espinosa, President VSP Vision Care. “Experiential events like ‘A Dark Meal’ enables those who participate to better understand all of our members’ needs.”
VSP’s business resource group Abilities Beyond Limited Expectations (ABLE) planned the event in partnership with A Touch of Understanding (ATOU), an organization that provides disability awareness programs that encourage acceptance of all individuals, especially those with disabilities. ABLE works to support VSP members and employees who have cognitive and physical impairments and their caretakers. The group also advocates for quality, positive eye care experiences for patients with impairments as part of their overall health.
Blindfolded participants of “A Dark Meal” were led into the lunch with a probing cane to locate any obstacles in their path, and a person with sight to help them navigate to their seat. While seated and waiting to eat their lunch, participants had the opportunity to hear from Darlene O’Brien, ATOU board member. Darlene lost her sight in 1998 and shared her experience about how she navigated blindness while taking care of her young children. She emphasized the importance that all people with or without disabilities deserve the same considerations and opportunities found through social interaction.
“I realized that if I was actually blind, I would not be able to open my eyes at the end of the lunch and answer all of the questions I had,” said Barbara. “I gained a better appreciation for the concentration those with disabilities need to have to do things that we don’t even think about.”
Experiential events like “A Dark Meal” can offer new perspective on how someone else is navigating through life. For VSP employees, it was a time to expand understanding and appreciation for all aspects of eye health and eye care, including blindness.
Learn more about VSP’s diversity and inclusion efforts.