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Helen Keller Services’ “Dining in the Dark” and Fireside Chat Event Offers Guests a New Perspective

This unique dining experience was designed to educate guests on the challenges faced by individuals who are blind, have low vision, or are DeafBlind, while spotlighting the impactful programs of Helen Keller Services.

By Helen Keller Services
February 26, 2024

This is a highlight video showing footage from Helen Keller Services’ Dining in the Dark and Fireside Chat event. It shows guests during the cocktail hour, then being guided while blindfolded into the dining area, orienting themselves, and navigating the table settings. It also features footage of Blind and DeafBlind speakers during the Fireside Chat portion of the evening. [End of Video Description]

Helen Keller Services recently held its “Dining in the Dark” event at the RxR Plaza in Uniondale, NY, a creative partnership with Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, P.C., a Long Island-based law firm. Built as an immersive experience designed to spotlight the daily realities faced by individuals who are blind, have low vision, or are DeafBlind, “Dining in the Dark” was created to educate guests on the challenges of navigating a meal without sight, as well as serve as a powerful moment to highlight the programs Helen Keller Services offers.

Attendees at the event were guided into the evening blindfolded and completely without the use of their sight to engage in a dining experience like no other. This unique setting aimed not only to raise awareness but also to illustrate how the Helen Keller Services’ programs empower individuals within the blind, low vision, and DeafBlind communities to lead fulfilling lives.

“Our experiences shape our perspectives and “Dining in the Dark” invited community members to step into the shoes of people without sight and question their assumptions,” said Sue Ruzenski, CEO of Helen Keller Services. “Engaging in tasks such as approaching a dinner table, navigating a plate of food, participating in dinner conversations, and exploring the textures and aromas of a deliciously prepared meal sparked a heightened curiosity. The experience led participants to contemplate how individuals who are blind and DeafBlind carry out daily tasks, expanding their own perspectives.”

The evening’s menu featured a thoughtfully selected array of dishes, including a gourmet Caesar salad, penne a la vodka, chicken piccata, and sautéed organic vegetables. Each dish was chosen for flavor and to enhance the sensory experience of the guests. The food also highlighted the experience of taste, smell, and texture in the absence of sight. 

People sit at a long table wearing blindfolds. There are plates of food, drinking glasses, and cloth napkins on the table.

Fireside Chat: Perspectives from blind and DeafBlind individuals

The highlight of the evening was the Fireside Chat, where guests were captivated by the personal journeys shared by individuals who are blind and DeafBlind. These powerful narratives brought to life the impactful work of Helen Keller Services, leaving guests with a newfound appreciation for the organization’s efforts to break down barriers and foster community inclusion.

5 people sit on cushioned chairs and couches. On women has an assistive cane propped against her seat. Another women communicates in tactile sign language by touching hands. A black guide dog lays at the woman's feet.

“Dining in the Dark” transcended an ordinary event, becoming a call to action to recognize and celebrate the achievements of the blind and DeafBlind communities.

Helen Keller Services’ mission

Two women communicate in tactile sign language as a man standing next to a podium speaks into a microphone.

Helen Keller Services’ mission is to enable individuals who are blind, have low vision, DeafBlind and/or have combined hearing and vision loss to live, work and thrive in their community of choice.

HKS offers services and programs through two divisions: Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youths and Adults and Helen Keller Services for the Blind. For more information, please visit www.helenkeller.org.

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