When: From 2 June 2017
Where: Harbour Town Shopping Plaza
|Dialogue in the Dark|
Dialogue In The Dark is a permanent exhibition and I guarantee you will want to go again and again and bring all your friends and family too. Unlike such attractions as the Eureka Skydeck, Dialogue In The Dark is an immersive event which lasts approximately an hour and excites all your senses in a fun and thrilling adventure as you experience Melbourne as a blind person does.
Entering the exhibition your sense of vision is completely taken away from you. Prepare to give up any light emitting devices such as phones or glowing watches (lockers are provided), and if like me you wear glasses prepare to take them off as well. For those of us who wear glasses all the time this is probably the most disconcerting moment, but they really are totally useless in the space and there is something quite liberating about not having that pressure on the nose!
Being totally immersed in pure black out can be very confronting and if you are claustrophobic you just have to let your guide (a blind or low vision employee) know and there are many quick exits along the way. I admit to having mild claustrophobia, but it did not bother me beyond a certain cloying sensation and the guides keep the experience friendly, fun and interactive so your attention is constantly focussed on all the amazing sensations we don't usually pay attention to because we let our eyes do all the work.
The experience includes trips to major Melbourne landmarks including the Queen Victoria Market and a quick tram ride. The tram was probably the most challenging part for me. I seemed to have real trouble finding a seat - not an unusual experience even for sighted people!
Crossing roads and walking through parks, we eventually found our way home and sat down in the kitchen for a lovely chat. Yes, we are still completely blind at this point. It is amazing how well you listen when you can't see.
You are given a white cane at the start to help guide you through the space and there are hand rails along the way to help you navigate. I loved the market. It is amazing the array of things on offer although I did wonder how vendors would feel about me handling their food products with the vigour I displayed as I tried to figure out what I was holding.
I was in a small group of 4 people, but the groups before and after us were larger. I think I preferred the smaller group because even with 4 of us I kept accidently hitting ankles with my cane and touching the people around me rather unexpectedly. This could be a whole new level of fun if you go with friends or family!
On a more serious note, it was illuminating to experience the world without eyes and I learnt some great tips about how to help low vision people navigate the world. I also found myself thinking that silence is not golden in this situation because it is sound which orients - much like bats and their sonar capabilities. I was most comfortable when the people in the group spoke because then I could figure out where everyone was and where I was in reference to them.
I cannot express how illuminating and also how much fun Dialogue In The Dark is. There are currently 35 exhibitions of this sort around the world and it great to have it here now. Not to mention that through this innitiative 20 low vision people are currently employed and there is a plan to hire another 10 in the near future!