It was a glorious sunny Autumn afternoon on Wednesday last, 26th October, as Aleksandra of NCBI and I headed off on our journey to Wayside National School. We were going to meet the boys and girls of 6th class and their teachers. They were organising a fundraising cake sale in aid of the National Council for the Blind on the following Friday. In advance they wanted to upgrade their understanding of the nature and function of NCBI.
With the aid of some probing questions from Alexandra these pupils amazed us with the level of their insight into the challenges and limitations facing people who are blind and visually impaired. I began to think that these pupils had invaded my brain and were looking out on the world through my eyes and the eyes of every person who is visually impaired. They were able to empathise with the mobility problems both inside and outside the home, difficulties regarding reading, cooking, choosing what clothes to wear, even knowing what we are eating, bumping into things, not recognizing people – to mention but a few.
With further probing questions Aleksandra elicited from them the various ways in which NCBI helps people who are visually impaired to handle these problems and to live as full a life as possible. She came armed with some of the aids that NCBI provides. The pupils had great fun experimenting with magnifiers, the long cane, the shades that simulated tunnel vision, peripheral vision and no vision at all.
They had also hoped to meet a client of NCBI, someone who has benefitted from their services. So that is where I came in with my lovely guide dog, Bramble. They saw Bramble in playful mood as she entered the well-ordered classroom like a tornado. Then with harness on, she became totally sedate and focussed, in work mode. After a brief demonstration of how Bramble responds to the various signals of hand, foot and voice it was now their turn to pose the probing questions. They gave me lots to think about and I also picked up some tips on how to maximise the services of NCBI to enhance my life.
We came home amazed and enriched by these young people.
We would like to congratulate the pupils of Wayside NS for the fantastic €1,417.57 they raised at their cake sale. Thank you to everyone involved.