Last week I had an amazing opportunity given to me by Milestones Israel…I was given the chance to visit the Blind museum based in Holon , just outside of Tel Aviv. It is a once in a lifetime experience that will only be available to you in this part of the world. It gave me so much to think about – from as soon as I entered the area, to afterwards, I had so much to think about , it totally gave me a completely new perspective on the Blind people of this world.
So what I would like to highlight are a few things. Firstly , the fact that our tour itself was lead by a blind man
Secondly – The different changes between each room has certain effects on each person in the group. and lastly…the location
I am going to try and focus on the positive things. This is a place that needs to be praised…it is something that part of the world has to deal with on a daily basis, and more than anything else -the museum is designed for children. It’s actually called “the children’s museum”. Even though there are different sections which you can visit, the museum itself is designated mostly to kids. – this is incredibly a great idea…as it makes them so much aware of people who are blind. There is the concept that there are kids in this world which we know live in a world that they are not even aware that there are blind people. However it compromises several things just for the kids. It isn’t just some boring museum where you walk around, look at stuff and go home afterwards thinking I went to a museum today. It is an experience itself – very interactive, you need to use all your other senses, and be totally focused the whole time.
So at the beginning, we all sit down in the front of the museum, we are introduced to a guy- who we later find out is partially blind – but none of us even picked up on that. He tells us about how to get the most of the museum , how to experience it safely, and a bit of an outline of the history of the place. he then mentioned briefly we will be lead by a blind person… this is not what any of us were expecting…
So then we are told about lockers…we are told we can bring in NOTHING…no phones ,no watches , nothing with the slightest bit of reflections light…absolutely nothing.. so we all go over to the lockers and put our stuff away. Then we come back , and we go in through a door… where we are given a blind stick and told how to use it…i.e don’t lift it off the floor, how to use it in a U shape…, then the partially blind man leads us to the darkness gradually and gradually until we are in blackness…feeling around for a wall. We now start to hear a new voice…our new friend who we will be leading us around . He directs us where to lean and stand and how to feel who you are walking into…we all line up against a wall. there is absolutely no light.It’s not like your room at night where your eyes adjust to the darkness and eventually you will see. Frankly – I found it more comfortable to keep my eyes closed for most of the tour…I didn’t think I would need to keep them open as there is nothing to see. But gradually you find that you should keep them open, just for the sake of making yourself appear like a regular blind person.
He leads us through several rooms all requiring that you use different senses in order to tell where you are…just a few examples… a market where we had to smell the rotten fruit…a boat where we felt the water on us…a music room where we lied down on the carpet and felt the vibrations of the music…and a rain-forest where there were monkeys and water and rain and so many other features that I am not even aware of…Most important i should mention…WE ARE NEVER GOING TO SEE THESE ROOMS IN LIGHT…I asked that at the end…he simply replied that there are no lights and therefore we will not be able to see it. It was also incredible… I visited this place on my own…and I feel like I became immediate best friends with a bunch of strangers on their own day tour…afterwards we chatted for half an hour about their trip…we would never have bonded without this experience..
A word of advice- go here either with someone who drives, or with a large tour group – it appeared the large groups are allowed to enter into the museum parking lot…one more thing very important…you need to book in advance in order to be there with a tour of your language. Without a booking you simply will not be able to enter.