‘Dining in the Dark’
The event is offered to families of CCIU students who experience visual impairments
CALN >> To put themselves in the shoes of their family member, several families gathered to have a meal without being able to see it.
The Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) partnered with the Applebee’s Grill in the Thorndale section of Caln to host the second annual “Dining in the Dark” dinner experience for Chester County students and their families who receive vision support services through the CCIU.
The CCIU said in a news release it turned off the lights on Nov. 14 to “shine a light on CCIU students that experience a variety of visual impairments and blindness.”
“Dining in the Dark is a fun way for families to develop an awareness of a variety of visual impairments,” said Jacalyn Auris, CCIU director of student services. “It also provides a chance to meet other families who have children with a visual impairment, and (to) have them receive support they otherwise may struggle to find.”
The CCIU’s Itinerant Blind/Visually Impaired Support program provides specialized services and instruction for students ages 5 through 21 whose skills allow them to function
“I always look forward to opportunities that put me in the shoes of the kids we support at the CCIU. We advocate tirelessly for all of the children in our schools, but it’s different and exciting to be given the chance to experience some of the day-to-day realities for these students.” — Jacalyn Auris, CCIU director of student services
within a regular education setting, according to the CCIU. Teachers of the visually impaired provide regular educators with strategies for working with visually impaired students. The level of intervention is determined by student need.
CCIU representatives noted that Dining in the Dark originated with Jorge Spielmann, a blind clergyman from Zurich, Switzerland. According to the Dining in the Dark website, when guests ate dinner at Spielmann’s house, some wore blindfolds during their meal to “show solidarity with their host and to better understand his world.” This unique dining concept began in Switzerland and has expanded to restaurants in major cities around the world such as Paris, Moscow, Berlin, New York City and for the second consecutive year it was featured in Chester County.
Students who participated in the event were given a tour of the kitchen and helped serve the meal while their families experienced the night wearing blindfolds or vision simulators.
“I always look forward to opportunities that put me in the shoes of the kids we support at the CCIU,” Auris said. “We advocate tirelessly for all of the children in our schools, but it’s different and exciting to be given the chance to experience some of the day-to-day realities for these students.”
For more information about this event or vision services offered by the CCIU, families can contact Carolyn Muller at 484-237-5107.
Visit Daily Local News staff writer Ginger Rae Dunbar’s blog about journalism and volunteering as a firefighter at FirefighterGinger.blogspot.com.
The Chester County Intermediate Unit partnered with the Applebee’s Grill in Thorndale to host the second annual “Dining in the Dark” dinner event. Diners experience a meal on Nov. 14 through the eyes of children with visual impairment. Pictured is student Elizabeth DeMarco with her family.