One of the courses we’re offering in the evening this semester at NSCECE is Inclusive Environments for Families. As the name suggests, it is a course where students learn how to ensure their child care setting is a welcoming one for children and those in their families who have a variety of different abilities. This week in class, students and interested guests took part in a wonderful learning experience which gave them some insight into what it’s like to not have, well, sight. Wearing blindfolds, participants attempted to eat a three-course meal to find out what it’s like to do so if you can’t see.
Adding a fascinating dimension to the experience, a mother of six-year-old boys who are blind was present to discuss what life is like for her and her sons. She was very candid in answering questions and an engaging speaker.
This was an eye-opening and thought-provoking evening. It helps one develop an understanding and an empathy for others when you put yourself in their position to find out a bit about their individual challenges, which we all have but are different for each of us. That understanding can go a long, long way to helping create an inclusive environment in a child care setting, because the better you understand the needs the better you are able to provide for them. A better understanding also takes away some of the fear we all have of what may be different and unknown to our own experience, which will make not only the environment but our own attitudes more welcoming.
So if you happen to be someone without vision impairment, try putting on a blindfold when you eat dinner tonight. You’ll be surprised what you come to see when you find you’re unable to see.