Sense without sight: blind navigation for sighted people

A talk from EMF 2022 by Sai

On Friday June 3, 2022 at in Stage C

Learn to sense the world without your eyes — hear walls and corridors, sense doorways and ceilings with your hair, feel nearby walls and people on your skin. (Yes, literally.) As a blind person, I do this every day; this is your opportunity to learn how to use sensory input that you already have, but you simply don’t realize or pay attention to.

This is specifically focused on blind navigation and sensory experience. I'll also (briefly) cover how and how not to interact with a blind person on the street, cognitive shifts from perceiving the world as a blind person, real vs myth difficulties, etc., but not blindness 101, braille, computers, general life skills, medical/legal issues, or the like.

Come in person. This isn't just a talk; in the live audience, you'll directly experience how to use senses you don't know you have, with participatory demonstrations tailored to the physical environment of EMF Camp, based on the skills and stimuli relied on every day by blind people like me. Practice during camp, and you'll sense more — permanently.

You'll have a better experience if you wear short sleeves, have your hair uncovered, and come together with someone with whom you're comfortable exchanging brief touch on the cheek, neck, or arm.

I will be completely blindfolded for the entire talk. I won't see you nod, shake your head, wave, or the like. Although I might be able to detect that if we're talking one-on-one, I can't do so when you're in a crowd or at stage distance. I still rely on live audience feedback, so please respond audibly, e.g. with words or clapping.

Per EMF request, there's no Q&A during talk. Just follow me outside afterwards if you have questions or comments, or join one of the workshops.

# Workshops

I'll run hands-on workshops each day. By going for a walk with me around the camp — blindfolded, using one of my guide canes — you'll gain qualitative experience you can't get anywhere else.

Signup is now open:

# Volunteers needed

I'll need assistants during the talk (on and off stage). No experience necessary — but brief training beforehand is, preferably Thursday (day 0) evening. Especially helpful if you have experience in aikido or similar martial arts, and are willing to be my on-stage uke during the talk.