An estimated one million persons in the U.S. are blind, and each year 50,000 more will become blind. In 2010, a Tennessee congregation tried a unique experiment to better understand challenges faced by the visually impaired.
(Locator: Nashville, Tenn.)
Joan Peay, Member, Pennington United Methodist Church: "Pick out whichever blindfold you want and put it on."
Members of Pennington United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tennessee are dining in the dark to experience blindness.
Joan Peay: "It's just hard to imagine what they go through, until you actually experience it yourself."
Volunteer: "Your salad is on the left. Dessert is on the right. Beverage is in the middle."
Volunteer: "I'm gonna turn out the lights now."
Joan Peay: "We're going now to be dining in the dark."
Bill Hardison, Member, Pennington United Methodist Church: "I thought it would be difficult and it's worse than I thought."
Michael Clay, Member, Pennington United Methodist Church: "I just need to remember where I lay everything. I felt the plate before I touched it."
Gloria Calhoun, Foundation Fighting Blindness: "I've got lasagna all over my hands. I don't know how much is on my fork. Let me (struggles to take a bite) I can't even find my mouth."
Michael Clay: "Definitely different. Thank goodness it's not peas or rice or something."
Bill Hardison: "If they had fried chicken, at least you could pick a leg up."
Gloria Calhoun: "I already spilled a glass of tea. I wiped my hands on the bread. And hope that I don't knock anything else over."
Joan Peay organized this event as part of "Change the World" weekend. One thousand United Methodist churches all over the world joined hands to help their communities. This meal raised 800 dollars-and awareness-for the Foundation Fighting Blindness, a cause close to Joan and to others here.
Joan Peay: "I have a ten-year-old grandson who has an eye disease that will eventually cause blindness."
The experience was eye opening even for the guest speaker, nurse Gloria Calhoun.
Gloria Calhoun: "I've never done this and yet I have a grandson who has an eye disease that will lead to blindness. I've never done this and I didn't know how long it would take for me to eat because I didn't know where anything was."
Michael Clay: "When you see people that are blind and you wonder about the difficulties they have to go through, and then when you experience something like this, it really brings it home."
This video was first posted on April 28, 2010 by United Methodist Communications.