LIHUE — The Aloha Blind group formed on Kauai around 1975, and has been meeting monthly ever since.
It is a consumer-based group of blind and visually impaired individuals and their friends and family who gather to learn from one another. The Aloha Blind group joined with other blind groups around the state in the 1990s to become a chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. State Department of Vocational Rehabilitation provides a meeting space and other resources and expertise to the group.
Ruth Yamane, previously a vocational counselor with DVR, helped start the original group. Now in her 90s, she recently attended one of the monthly meetings.
The group meets the first Thursday of the month at 10 a.m. in the state building. Sometimes there are guest speakers or special events.
In August, the group went paddling at Niumalu. With the loan of canoes from the Waiola Canoe Club and the expertise of Vic Allan and his wife Annie, eight blind individuals learned how to paddle outrigger canoes and took to the water for a short trip.
For many it was their first experience paddling. Vic Allan, who instructed the group on how to board the canoe, proper boat etiquette and paddling techniques, is totally blind himself and an accomplished and competitive paddler.
He said the group got into an easy synchronized flow quickly since they tuned into the rhythm rather than depending on visual cues.
Oct. 13 will be the annual NFB white cane walk in Lihue to raise awareness about the white cane as a symbol for the blind. The event asks drivers and other pedestrians to be mindful of visually impaire pedestrians.