On October 13, the UCF community learned about World Sight Day. This date was intentionally chosen for the opportunity to join a global awareness day on vision loss and prevention of blindness as proclaimed by the World Health Organization.
The main event for the day started and concluded with the documentary film Going Blind by writer-director-producer and Peabody Award winner Joseph Lovett. The film captured Lovett’s personal journal dealing with glaucoma, or what he calls the “thief in the night.” Throughout the film, he took the audience on visits to his doctor, experts on eye and vision research, and on his talks with people who have lost their sight. Each one opens up and shares how they cope with the loss and “just getting on with life and . . . learning to use what you have.”
The second main event was an open forum highlighted by panel of five UCF Knights with sight impairments; Suha Saleh, UCF Department of Health Professions; and Lee Van Eepoel, Lighthouse Central Florida. Keith Gee, Lighthouse Central Florida, led the panel with questions.
Each of the five Knights in the panel shared how they lost their vision and how they managed UCF courses. When asked what UCF could do to improve accessibility all agreed on common barriers: random construction sites that set up without notification to the community, on line labs that are not compatible with screen readers (ex. myMath lab), clickers, and lectures that that rely heavily on visual representations of formulas and problems being solved on the spot with verbal descriptions such as “plug in this number here” as traditionally meant for students who are sighted and can follow those minimal verbal cues.
A Knight panelist commented, “The world is not going to adapt to us, it is up to us to educate the world.”
Lighthouse Central Florida, Division of Blind Services, Florida Reading and Vision Technology, College Optical Store, UCF Health Professions, and UCF Student Disability Services provided educational information and a myriad of resources available for those with sight impairments.
Going Blind was first introduced to the public on October 14, 2010 in New York City. Since then, it has been screened all around the United States and the world, including Germany, Romania, Malaysia, Iceland and Canada. UCF Staff and Faculty may contact Associate Librarian Michael Arthur at 407.882. 0143 and ask about borrowing the DVD.
The World Sight Day event was made possible by the joint efforts and funding support of SGA Diversity Initiatives, Multicultural Student Center, Recreation and Wellness Center, UCF Library, Lighthouse Central Florida and Student Disability Services. Special thanks to Igor Kovalyov in Educational Materials Center for creating a showcase around the World Sight Day-Going Blind theme, still open for viewing till the end of October in ED 0194.