Last Updated: December 21, 2017, 3:50 pm

Request Robby: Blindness not easy without support


I respect the blind a little more after Brittany Haun from Spanish Fork suggested through the Request Robby Facebook page that I live a whole day blindfolded. 

I took this request as a 24-hour challenge to experience a day in the life of a blind person. I went to bed with the blindfold wrapped around my head so I would wake up blind and face the morning’s challenges head on.

I tried to stay committed to an entire day, but from the beginning I wasn’t prepared with the necessary tools for the seeing impaired, and some tasks were impossible to complete. I spread the challenge over three days, trying to get as far as possible, each day practicing techniques for recognizing the direction I was heading and using accessibility apps in my smartphone as tools.

I wasn’t able to master the apps, though.

The apps gave the phone’s features audio, which became annoying to class members and anyone around. Every time I touched my phone, it would voice where my thumb was at.

Texting was still near impossible because I didn’t learn Morse code. I used an iPhone after the experiment and learned I wished I had Siri’s help. The only app on my phone I found helpful was the direction indicator on the eyes-free shell app. It not only told me where I was standing, but which direction I was facing.

Originally, I assumed being blind would be easier as I adjusted. After all, pin the tail on the donkey is a children’s game in which participants add the additional difficulty of spinning the blindfolded player around in circles. However, without a screaming group of juveniles to guide me to a donkey’s rear, it was a different sort of game.

I hit the alarm clock with natural perfect precision, but as I woke, I stumbled out of my bed, across the room and crashed into a wall within the first five minutes of my blind test. It took some time to adjust as I used my right hand on the right wall to make a complete circle around the house so as to not miss the bathroom.

Brushing my teeth was challenging as I could not get toothpaste onto the brush. I continued to make a mess getting about the house as I knocked over stacks of different things, which may have included books and dirty dishes. It seemed the house was messier while I couldn’t see.

As I was getting dressed, I realized I had to be satisfied with whatever I picked out because, most likely, it wouldn’t match. I felt through every drawer and grabbed a pair of pants, a button-up shirt, and a corduroy coat.

After stepping out the front door, I had no idea where to go. I had not thought about the walk to school thoroughly enough. I didn’t even know what time it was. From what I could hear, none of my roommates were home to guide me to school.

I wandered for a few minutes and gave up on the morning. I had missed my first two classes, so I put the experiment on hold and drove to breakfast.

During meals, I was constantly getting food on my arms. I would also miss my mouth. I never thought I used my eyes so much in eating. I had to eat with two hands holding a spoon using a mental grid, guiding it to my mouth.

I needed help doing almost everything. I could not get around without using different tools or asking people for help.

I tried using a pole as a walking stick, but I lost it somewhere on Dixie State University’s campus. I put it down briefly to get some food but couldn’t find it as I felt about the Gardner building walls. I then used a rolled-up newspaper, waving it back and forth—to not run into anything—while dragging my feet along the edges of pathways following the cracks. I used the sun’s heat to determine which direction I was walking. If it was morning, I’d feel it on the southeast, and if it was afternoon, I’d feel it on the southwest.

When I was in a rush or didn’t have the ability to get somewhere without help, I asked whomever was around me to grab my newspaper and take me to buildings.

I didn’t feel comfortable asking strangers for this kind of help, so I only asked for help twice when I heard familiar voices. I did have to wait for others when crossing some streets to tell me the light is green because not all stop lights have sounds.

This experiment was a huge lesson in humility. If I were to go blind officially, I would have to become reliant upon other people, and that’s not easy for someone who doesn’t like asking for help.

Now it’s your turn to give me a suggestion. Is there a social experiment you’d like me to try? Is there an exotic meal you’d like me to prepare? Is there a particularly frightening phobia you’d like me to overcome? Go to the Request Robby Facebook page and submit your suggestions.