Blindfold Challenge

Blind and Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh President Erika Arbogast spent the week of Nov. 28 – Dec. 2, 2011 under blindfold — 24 hours for each of the five working days — to both bring attention to the challenges faced by people with disabilities and to BVRS.

During that week, the 33-year-old Cranberry resident took one bus from her home to Downtown Pittsburgh and then—after an almost 1 mile walk— transferred to another bus to our Homestead site. In the office, Erika did all that a president does in a day. After work hours, she made her way home via the buses again to her personal life with her husband and their 3-year-old daughter—and remained blindfolded.

Erika certainly sought to gain attention for this 102-year-old nonprofit whose mission is to change the lives of persons with vision loss and other disabilities by fostering independence and individual choice. But she wanted to try to experience what individuals who are blind go through in managing their households, in getting to work, in holding down their jobs.

“This is my dream job,” said the BVRS president. “As a working mom who doesn’t live on a bus line, if I lost my vision today it would be difficult to continue. And I know that people who are blind do continue and get to work. Some of them work here.”

BVRS President Erika Arbogast navigates Downtown Pittsburgh streets under blindfold using a white cane

For one month Erika trained for the challenge, learning daily living techniques that included money identification, personal grooming, safe cooking, housekeeping, as well as using a cane while walking and using public transportation. She also trained on the latest technology that makes computers and telephones accessible to those with vision impairments. She received the same individualized instruction as do other BVRS clients.

Both during training and during her challenge work week, Erika experienced—firsthand—what our clients experience.



BVRS President Erika Arbogast, under blindford, learns screen reading software at her computer