TYLER, TX (KLTV) - More than 200 million people around the world live with some sort of vision impairment, according to numbers from the world health organization. With that in mind, a Texas nonprofit group is providing a way for anyone to experience what it's like for people who are visually impaired.
Jarrett Gist works with dozens of legally blind and visually impaired individuals throughout East Texas.
"From blind at birth to vision loss later on in life," said Gist.
As a certified orientation and mobility specialist at Lighthouse for the Blind in Tyler, Gist teaches individuals to maintain a quality of life despite the loss of sight.
"We will look at everything from getting to the house to the mailbox to the house; we will look at everything from getting around their home to the park, to the mail. From home to the grocery store, or how to get to work."
The organization shows people that their disability does not need to prevent them from going after opportunities.
But the nonprofit says for there to be opportunities for people with partial or no sight, the community needs to be educated, too.
That's why it offers the Vision Awareness Program which allows someone with vision to experience what it's like not to have it.
"What it's like to prepare snacks, to navigate down a hallway with voice commands, how to sit down with no vision," said Educational Service Manager Lori Stimpson Arteaga.
A majority of the time, students or professionals in the medical field take the session, but they want to encourage anyone who is curious to reach out, too.
"The dynamics of the program allows you to experience on a minimal scale what it's like to be without something that you take for granted," said Stimpson Arteaga.
She says taking the time to experience this program will have a positive impact on a community that is often misunderstood.
"Sighted individuals are usually the people who control HR departments and managers in different places. If they are more aware, it allows for more opportunities," said Stimpson Arteaga.
Lighthouse for the Blind says there is no cost to take the program. The group is asking that those interested in the simulation try to sign up in groups.