When people get asked about their number one tool they will always take along when packing for a trip, the most mentioned object is: a camera. With commemoration built on visual impressions, it is hard for the human mind to imagine seizing our surroundings, navigating our way around and creating memories that last without the capability of vision.
How does a blind man experience the sun set floating in a hot air balloon? How does walking a small path next to an abyss feel on your soles? How does a rainbow smell? What does reaching the mountain peak sound like?
At the age of 4, Amar Latif gets diagnosed that by the time he comes of age, he will have lost more than 95% of his eyesight. But instead of him giving in, this stroke of fate only got the ball rolling for Amar. Driven by the urge to explore the world that is presenting itself around him, he decides to not let blindness keep him from traveling. He has 4 perfectly capable senses left and he will expose them to whatever planet earth holds. A first set-out for Canada during his studies is followed by jungle adventures and volcano climbs in Nicaragua, Middle America. Doing so and going through various difficulties of a visually impaired traveler, entrepreneur Amar eventually founds Traveleyes in 2004 – the first company aiming to make individual travel accessible to the blind.
Bringing together visually capable and blind people, this way of traveling elevates and enriches either explorers’ experiences. While the sighted tend to limit themselves to vision and therefore disregard 4 out of 5 senses, a blind man makes use of exactly those. For the sighted, guiding a blind person and describing what you see, raises awareness and helps to observe and deliberately perceive parameters like structures and shapes. By developing a way of not only seeing the world through their own eyes and stopping occasionally to close their eyes and put themself in the blind companion’s shoes, the sighted notice an increase of sensibility and mindfulness.
On your next trip, leave your camera at home for a day and try to perceive what you see as if you were to describe it to a blind man. Maybe even bring a notebook and write about your observations of what seems ordinary at first glance.
Take a moment to sit down, close your eyes and just hear, sense and smell your surrounding. Write down what it feels like.