Orbis Singapore Organises Largest Mass Blindfold Luncheon Event in Singapore

ORBIS SINGAPORE ORGANISES LARGEST MASS BLINDFOLD LUNCHEON EVENT IN SINGAPORE

13 October 2018, Singapore – Ever wondered how you would have a meal without being able to see? Would you be able to eat without making a mess or reach for your drink without tipping your cup over? This was a challenge posed to participants at Orbis Singapore’s inaugural Mass Blindfold Luncheon today. The initiative by Orbis Singapore, a non-profit organisation that treats and prevents avoidable blindness, aims to promote awareness of the difficulties faced by persons with visual impairment.

The luncheon, made possible with sponsorship from Certis, Equis and PowerPlus Group, saw over 200 participants between 7 and 68 years of age, blindfolded and guided into Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Convention Centre, and subsequently served their lunch by 11 visually-impaired facilitators from Dialogue in the Dark Singapore. Dialogue in the Dark is an organisation that seeks to raise awareness and facilitate inclusion of marginalised people in the community.

Seated in groups of 10 at rectangular tables, the participants were served a main course, dessert and drink without first being informed of the menu. It was a lively session as participants tried to locate their plate, cup and cutlery to feed themselves without making a mess and figure out what the mystery food items were.

For June Yong, 38, the challenge of eating blindfolded extended beyond the actual dining experience. “I was moving very slowly towards the dining table despite having a guide next to me, and I felt really uncomfortable having to wait till the food is in my mouth before I could figure out what it was. I also found myself raising my voice, because I wasn’t sure if my friend who was facing me knew that I was talking to her,” she said.

According to Project Orbis Singapore Director Elaine Woon, this is the reality experienced by persons with visual impairment. “They move slower because they are afraid of tripping or bumping into things. They are apprehensive about what they put into their mouths because they are unable to form judgments about these items prior to tasting them, and they have to speak louder in the absence of eye contact, to catch the attention of others,” she said.

In addition to the luncheon, participants learned eye care tips through games conducted by Essilor Vision Foundation and were treated to a demonstration of guide dogs in action by Guide Dogs Singapore. They were given the opportunity to engage massage services by masseurs with visual impairment from the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped and had their eye sight checked by Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Optometry students.

“I’m very impressed with my guide, Gary, who served luncheon at my table. Although he has visual impairment, he guided me so well and in a calming manner, I’m so glad that my friend and I made it to this event as I understand that some people were on the waiting list. Thanks to Orbis for giving us this experience,” said Joanne Lim, Founder and Chief Image Coach at Image Success.

“Orbis is delighted by the overwhelming response to our inaugural mass blindfold luncheon and to be able to help participants understand, through the event, why we are so passionate about eliminating avoidable blindness. We had to turn away a number of people due to capacity constraints, but rest assured that we will be working to accommodate a bigger crowd next year,” said Elaine.

About Orbis International

Orbis is an international non-profit working to eliminate avoidable blindness. We are a pioneer in the prevention and treatment of blindness for over 30 years and have worked in 92 countries. We operate the world’s only Flying Eye Hospital on board an MD-10, a state-of-the-art teaching hospital that allows us to travel the world to share knowledge and develop skills with communities that need it most. Orbis provides education that is both high-quality and long-lasting so that these medical professionals can use their new skills to treat their patients even after the Flying Eye Hospital departs. Visit sgp.orbis.org to learn more.

MEDIA CONTACT

Elaine Woon
Director
Project Orbis International Inc (Singapore) Ltd
[email protected]