Sighted take walk in shoes of blind

By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Veterans Park was filled with people walking the trails wearing a sleep shade and using a walking stick Saturday, occasionally wondering into a planter or flower bed.
Members of the National Federation for the Blind, Tupelo chapter, were showing friends, interested community members and nursing students at ICC what being blind is like.
The blind members of the National Federation for the Blind also were helping the nursing students train for helping a blind patient.
“We’re out here showing people what it’s like to be blind and also that it’s OK, if you see a blind person, to approach them and say something,” said Richard Joyner, president of the Tupelo chapter of the National Federation for the Blind.
Joyner was in the eighth grade when he began losing his eyesight and had to learn to walk and navigate the Tupelo streets without his eyes.
“I thought I knew the streets when I started training at the Reach Center,” Joyner said. “They put me on Greet Street and I said, ‘I know this street.’ They told me to go to Church and then take Jefferson and I got totally lost. But I mapped it in my head, ‘Now I know exactly where I am.’”
Nurses walked the trails with blindfolds on to understand what a blind person has to feel for when they walk in an unknown area and then they would walk with blind individuals around the track.
“We’re instructing the nurses that are going to ICC on how to sight guide a blind person or lead a blind person, as far as giving them directions,” said Necy McGaha. “We’re teaching them to work with a blind person in case they have to work with a blind patient.”
McGaha is the vice president of the National Federation for the Blind Tupelo Chapter.
Cindi Eskey, of Tupelo, teaches blind students in Booneville. She attended the event as a way to better understand what needs her students have and walk a short ways in their shoes.
jb.clark@journalinc.com