Blind People Tour Philadelphia Flower Show

We spoke with one visitor to get her review.
All photos courtesy Jenny Laden, Art-Reach.

All photos courtesy Jenny Laden, Art-Reach.

The Philadelphia Flower Show opened at the Convention Center on Saturday, and we have to say that people seem a lot more excited about it than they have been in the past few years. On Monday, queen-of-all-that-is-tasteful Martha Stewart popped by to snap some photos, and on Tuesday morning, a group of blind and partially-blind visitors got a chance to experience the massive display.

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Just how do blind people experience the Philadelphia Flower Show? With the help of professional “audio describer” Nicole Sardella, who does the same kind of work with the Broadway Philadelphia theatrical events, The Book of Mormon, and the Brain exhibition at the Franklin Institute.

Sardella describes what she is seeing, and the blind guests are also invited to touch the materials that make up some of the exhibits. Obviously, the sense of smell is also a big part of a show like this. In the above clip, Sardella describes the moss used in a display while a blind person handles the moss, “seeing” it through its intricate textures.

69-year-old West Philadelphia resident Eleanor Childs was one of those in attendance. Childs began losing her sight eight years ago thanks to glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. Before that, she was an avid fan of the Philadelphia Flower Show, and this is the first one she’s attended since her vision problems began.

West Philadelphia resident Eleanor Childs tilts her head back as Nicole Sardella describes an exhibit at the Philadelphia Flower Show.

West Philadelphia resident Eleanor Childs tilts her head back as Nicole Sardella describes an exhibit at the Philadelphia Flower Show.

“I wanted to come and see what the experience was like now, at where I am at in my life,” Childs told us on Tuesday morning as the tour was wrapping up. “I couldn’t see as much of the beauty of the flowers that I’m used to, but I enjoyed listening, and in my case, not having been blind all my life, I could put those descriptions together with previous experiences and get a very nice sense of what’s going on. Plus, it’s nice and cool and smells so good in here, and I’m with friends, so it all goes together.”

The tour was organized by Associated Services for the Blind and Philadelphia non-profit Art-Reach, which works with over 170 human and social services agencies to connect people with disabilities to cultural events in the Philadelphia area. Through the Art-Reach program, people with disabilities are able to experience the Philadelphia Flower Show for $1 each.

The theme of this year’s flower show is Explore America, a patriotic celebration of our national parks and history. The show runs through March 13th at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

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