‘Din­ing in the Dark’

The event is of­fered to fam­i­lies of CCIU stu­dents who ex­pe­ri­ence vis­ual im­pair­ments

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Ginger Rae Dun­bar gdun­bar@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @GingerDun­bar on Twit­ter

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.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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.

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