Burnaby residents are invited to a free forum this weekend on living with vision loss.
The New Westminster Lions Club is hosting the event for people to get an idea of what it's like to experience life without sight.
The Seeing Things Differently, Living With Low Vision forum will feature information booths, presentations and activities, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 at Century House in New Westminster.
"It's about telling people that blindness is not a tragedy, that it's merely an expression of that diverse spectrum of humanity," said Louisa Lundy, event coordinator and secretary of the New Westminster Lions Club. "It's intended to teach the sighted how to live in this world with the blind and be helpful, as opposed to being a hindrance. It's also intended, for the blind and low vision, to put under one single roof all the services and technologies and adaptations that will make their life in the sighted world easier."
A lineup of speakers from the Canadian Institute for the Blind, the Vancouver General Hospital Eye Centre, Blind Beginnings, Apple and other organizations will offer information and give demonstrations on apps and software available for those with low vision.
Shawn Marsolais, founder of Blind Beginnings, who competed in the 2004 Paralympic Games and works as a part-time reporter for Accessible Media, will give a talk on etiquette for the sighted around those who are blind.
Her talk will offer a Ms. Manners style "top 10 faux pas" mistakes most commonly made by sighted people.
Sighted attendees will also get a chance to find out what it's like to be blind through interactive activities like a "sighting challenge," wearing blindfolds while trying to button up a shirt, lace their shoes, pour water and perform other basic tasks.
Everyone, whether sighted or visually impaired, is welcome to attend the event, which Lundy says will be the largest of its kind ever held in the Lower Mainland.
"There's been a lot of effort and love put into this," she said. "This is not about the Lions; this is not even about the low vision people at Century House, it's really about a community coming together to help others because we can."
After visiting a forum for the blind and deaf, hosted by the Lions Club in Maple Ridge last year, Lundy decided it would be a good idea to put on a similar event in the Royal City.
"New Westminster's a hub," she said. "It's so easily accessible by disabled people that it just seemed the perfect fit."
In B.C., there are 135,000 people living with vision loss, according to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.
The forum will be held at Century House, (Douglas and Fir rooms) at 620 Eighth St.
Admission is free.
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