Students Explore New OU Communication Center In Darkness

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Blindfolded and arm-in-arm, students explored the new Schoonover Center at Ohio University on Monday morning. This blind discovery was part of an experiment invented by OU professor J.W. Smith. He wanted give his students a feeling of what it means to be blind or visually impaired.

The blind professor has been teaching a class called "Communicating With People With Physical Disabilities" for many years now. With that special exercise he wanted to show that blind people can live a normal life.

"With proper training and the right attitude they should not be afraid to go out and explore," Smith explained.

During the experiment the students performes two roles: They were leading their blindfolded classmates but they also were led. For OU student Emmalynn Fisher the exercise was an interesting experience.

"It was harder to lead someone because I felt like I had more responsibility and I wasn't sure how to describe the surroundings to them," she said. But being blindfolded then would have scared even a little bit, especially walking down the stairs. "That was a bit frightening because you didn't know when the last step was," Fisher explained.

Smith himself has wanted to discover the new communication building for a while. After his first visit he was delighted.

"I like it. I didn't have any expectations, I didn't have any images. I purposely didn't ask anybody about it," he said.

His first impression is positive, especially praising the easy access to the building. "I haven't finished all of the bulding yet," Smith said.

On Wednesday he is going to take his students back to continue the experiment.