Each year we open our doors for tours. Some of them are for sighted people who need to learn more about us and why we exist. Some are for our members who already know what we do but deserve to see our headquarters that they are a part of building and maintaining. Some of our tours are for people from other countries, and they provide the opportunity for us to learn, teach, and extend a helping hand to our fellow blind men and women throughout the world.
We were recently visited by a delegation from the Guatemala School for the Blind. Our visitors were members of a ten-person choir, the students being composed of boys and girls ranging in age from eight to fourteen. They were accompanied by three adults, one being a blind teacher who was in charge of the choir. Of the three adults, one could speak English, so she acted as the interpreter.
Those of you who have heard the most recent presidential release received part of the gift the choir left with us. They asked to do another song which turned into a twenty-two-minute concert. It was delightful and can be found at: https://nfb.org/images/nfb/audio/misc_2018/
guatemalan-choir-1.mp3 or https://nfb.org/images/nfb/audio/misc_2018/guatemalan-choir-
The delegation was interested in many things they saw during the tour. One was the rocket made by the blind in 2004 at our Rocket On! event; they were also intrigued by the books depicting the stars. But the object that drew the most attention was Dr. tenBroek’s old cane. It is a relatively short, thin, and fragile device, and it was clear that at the time it was being used, the purpose was more for alerting the sighted to the presence of a blind traveler then to giving that blind traveler information to navigate the world independently. That cane, of course, was just the beginning of a revolution in travel that would change the cane’s primary purpose from a signpost to a badge of independence allowing for safe and efficient travel.
The children were absolutely astounded at the length of some of the canes they saw and were particularly interested in the length of Anil Lewis’s cane. They couldn’t believe that anyone would use a cane that long, so the obvious question they wanted answered was, “How tall is he?” To his initial distress, they proceeded to find out, each of them trying to reach the head of this tall, cane-using blind man.
Anna Kresmer, our librarian at the Jernigan Institute, said, “I work here because of the good things we do, but some days make it absolutely clear why this is where I belong. When they left the library, I felt very happy because it confirmed once again why this is where I work and the difference I can make.”