Friday, April 04, 2008

Leader Toledo, Diversity Day

Yesterday I was blind.

Yesterday was another day of Leadership Toledo.

Yesterday was diversity day.

We met at The Ability Center where we were divided into six groups. Each of us received a disability. Mine was blindness. I donned a pair of black-out goggles. Some people had walkers, others were in wheelchairs, some had hearing loss and others had limited vision. The one that challenged one high school student was not being able to speak.

Each group went from station to station to find out different ways the center helps people with disabilities. What is really neat about this organization is that many of the staff have some form of disability, so that when they are working with clients, they can very much empathize.

Here's what I noticed. When I couldn't see what was happening I became less engaged in what was going on. I think I do a lot of lip reading anyway, because of my hearing loss, but not being able to see facial expressions certainly limited the level of communication that I was able to receive.

Because we moved from station to station, I needed someone to help me move around. Ron Dike, one of the members of my LT class, made it his job to be my leader. Ron and I had never really talked before, as we had never ended up in any of the smaller groups together. At first, I was tentative with my movements, but as Ron proved that I could trust his expertise, I became much more sure. For me it was an interesting exercise in building relationship without having conversation other than the directions or the description of what was happening that Ron was giving me.

What are some ways you see relationship develop that go beyond conversation?

3 comments:

Jacki Hollywood Brown said...

What a great way to make others understand about disabilities!

When I had small children I pushed my stroller all over the neighbourhood. There were so many places where I had great difficulty getting a stroller around I couldn't imagine what it would be like in a wheelchair.

Debby said...

That's such a good point. And we who are able, think of a wheelchair as, well, as wheelchair. But each wheelchair has different configurations according to the needs of the client. We have a friend whose wheelchair needs to be slightly tilted back. Going to a restaurant means that his legs don't fit under the tables because of this tilt.

Louise Kahle said...

Because of my hearing loss, I have found that I am often less engaged in conversations when there is a lot of background noise. I have never been any good at reading lips. I think I will look into getting some lessons in lip reading!