DEL MAR — During each day of the San Diego County Fair, tens of thousands of visitors see animals, food, music acts and other exhibits. They also hear, smell, taste and feel some fair activities, and on June 23 the Braille Institute San Diego took 14 students on a field trip to the county fair.
“The students had a really great time and it was a beautiful day for it,” said Darlene Miller, Braille Institute educational program manager.
Ten guides joined the students who took a bus from the Braille Institute in La Jolla and spent from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the fair.
Only two of the students who attended the fair are totally blind. “Some of the students have some vision,” Miller said. “They are able to maybe see colors or shapes.”
Others can see with magnifiers or other special devices. That allowed the students to enjoy the arts and crafts even with their visual impairment. In some cases, vendors would allow the Braille Institute students to touch the fabrics.
“Many of our students are elderly individuals who have age-related eye conditions,” Miller said.
The students also experienced the fair food and the animals, and they were able to touch some of the animals as well as to hear and smell them.
“It was definitely a sensory experience for them,” Miller said.
In addition to enjoying elements of the county fair, the trip allowed the students to learn to use their other senses and be in the open in the presence of crowds.
“They’re highlighting their different senses as well as their orientation and mobility,” Miller said. “It’s a great opportunity for them to practice being out in public and utilizing those skills.”