We all take our health for granted. Think about those in wheel chairs or those without hearing or eyesight. Life is very tough for some people and we need to remember that.
Yesterday I met a blind man with a guide dog in the city centre. We spoke for a while and he told me that they were going to have an experiment the following day with some colleagues at the Kristiansand Kommune.
They were going to experience life as a disabled person; blind or wheelchair bound.
I met all of them at the kommune reception. There were some wearing sunglasses with tape over them making it impossible to see. Others had their glasses slightly covered to experience life as a slightly blind person. Some had a walking cane, some in wheelchairs and some with special walkers.
It was not easy!
Just getting out of the building was a chore with some having difficulties opening the doors.
The blind man then explained to them that they needed to stay on the brick paths as they are designed to lead blind people around the city.
Up markensgata, some tried to enter a store as did this lady in a wheelchair. She said it was quite easy, but hard work pushing herself along the street. "good exercise" I said.
I heard the blind man say that they were not allowed to get help, they had to try and figure it out on their own. That was a good lesson...
I spoke to him;
Man: I lost my eyesight 25 years ago as a result of diabetes so whenever I leave the house, I map out the directions in my head and use the guide dog to divert me from obstacles. It is not easy, but that is life.
Me: It is very difficult to see that you are blind because you are looking directly at me.
Man: I can see that you are standing there, but I cannot see your face.
Another man walked up to him and the blind man recognised him well before the man said hello.
Me: That was amazing. How was that possible?
Man: I recognise his walk and build, so that is an easy way for me to remember people.
My advice to people is to enjoy life and your health.
Take a walk in the forest with your kids, kick the football with them and make the most out of it because there are many who cannot.
Kristiansand is a city that has dedicated a lot of time into making sure handicapped people are able to enjoy the city like everyone else, so there are special ramps for wheelchairs, special toilets and larger entrances to stores. Of course parking is also prioritised.
adam (at) visitsorlandet.com