April 24, 2012 at 8:04 PM
Here is a link to TCPalm's article on 2011's Dine in the Dark Event.
April 24, 2012 at 7:56 PM
Here is a link to the Palm Beach Post's article on our new location
Blind center moves to bigger space in Palm Springs
April 24, 2012 at 5:59 PM
January 15th, 2004
By Sam Tranum, Staff Writer
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, FL
West Palm Beach --· Two years ago, John Trabulsi had 20/20 vision. Today, he is blind. Now that diabetes has taken his vision, he must re-learn how to make his way through the world. It takes some adjustments, some new skills.
That's why Trabulsi, 62, goes to the Florida Outreach Center for the Blind's classes. On Monday, after some practice reading Braille and a session on dealing with stress, students worked on making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
"I don't know how much peanut butter I have on the knife," Trabulsi fretted. "How am I supposed to figure it out? I like a lot of peanut butter."
Other students and group leader Carolyn Lapp did their best to guide him. It was the often-joked-about situation of the blind leading the blind.
That's just the way Lapp, president of the Palm Beach County chapter of the advocacy group National Federation of the Blind, likes it.
That's part of the reason she started the Center about nine months ago. She says it's the only place in Palm Beach County where blind instructors teach blind students independent-living skills. The other part is that she simply didn't think there were adequate services for blind people in the county.
Trabulsi goes to four or five classes and groups in an effort to stay busy and avoid sitting home alone. He says learning from blind teachers such as Lapp has advantages.
"There's no doubt about it. When you have instruction from somebody who is blind, they already know what you're going through," Trabulsi said. "The other counselors who just go to school, they don't have that experience."
It seemed to work pretty well Monday.
The Center still is hunting for a permanent location, so classes are in the Piccadilly Cafeteria in West Palm Beach. About 12 people, with varying amounts of vision, showed up. They sat in front of cafeteria trays loaded with jars of peanut butter and jelly, butter knives, plates and slices of bread.
Lapp suggested digging a little peanut butter out of the jar and starting to spread it from the middle of the bread outward. Pretty soon everyone was done and many were munching on their work.
Lapp has big plans for her new Center. She envisions a Florida Outreach Center for the Blind that hires blind people to help other blind people. To make it all happen, she is searching for grant money and a 2,500-square-foot location.
Dawn Clemons, a spokeswoman for the Lighthouse for the Blind of the Palm Beaches, took exception to Lapp's claim that Palm Beach County didn't have adequate services for the blind.
She said the Lighthouse had been doing a very good job as the primary non-profit organization serving the nearly 43,000 blind and visually-impaired county residents. (Note, Since this was written, Lighthouse Center closed it's doors in April 2006 leaving FOCB the only facility available.)
Clemons said having blind instructors is less important than having qualified instructors. She said Lighthouse hires instructors certified to teach people with visual disabilities.
Rosanna Lippen, a spokeswoman for the Broward County chapter of the advocacy group Florida Council of the Blind, also thinks sight doesn't prevent someone from being able to teach blind people effectively.
"A lot of times a blind teacher will give a better perspective," said Lippen, who is blind. "But there are times when you need a sighted person. If I was newly blind and somebody who is blind is going to show me how to get around, I would not have that trust."
Despite the disagreements on philosophy, it's good that Lapp took the initiative to fill what she saw as a gap in services, said Sam Atwood, a client advocate for the Florida Division of Blind Services.
"I think that the more people take responsibility for their own progress, the better they will do," he said.
Sam Tranum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (561) 243-6522.