Adaptive Baseball for the Blind and Visually Impaired

It was an unusually picture perfect summer day in New York City with temperatures in the mid-70’s, blue skies, and none of the humidity that had been plaguing the city in the prior weeks. It was a perfect day for baseball.

Only the game taking place at Field #4 in Central Park’s Great Lawn was quite different than most as the players were all blind or visually impaired.

“We like to come up with recreational activities for the blind and visually impaired so they can go out and socialize, be physically active and integrate with sighted people in different games,” said Ed Plümacher, Co-Founder and Director of AccessQuest, an organization that empowers the way blind and visually impaired people live, learn, work and socialize.

Plümacher, who is legally blind, recently discovered an adaptive form of baseball for the blind and visually impaired that is popular in Italy and organized the clinic in Central Park.

Two coaches, Fabio Giurleo and Lele Crippa, traveled over from Italy to help run the clinic, as did two players from the AIBXC league (Italian Blind Baseball Association) – Matteo Briglia and Flos Venetiae.

They were joined by Hall of Fame Baseball Coach Don Landolphi, who discovered this form of adaptive baseball while coaching in Florence, Italy in 2007. “To me it’s real baseball. They have to have many of the skills that are required for baseball and they have to implement them on the field.”

More than a dozen blind and visually-impaired participants were ready to take the field as they practiced drills, which included running towards bases using sound (whistles and clapping) as a navigation device, self-batting (no pitcher is involved), and catching the ball, which has a jingle-type bell enclosed in it.

Baseball for the Blind

A player is coached to call for first and third bases (which will make a noise such as a whistle) in order to orient himself while at bat.

According to Landolphi, the only non-challenged player is the individual at second base who catches the ball from the defensive team when they throw it. (Rules for this type of adaptive baseball are much different from the game known as ‘Beep Baseball’, which is more popular in the US.)

One of the hopes is to get more countries involved with the sport so that it can be accepted into the Paralympics. Currently there are leagues in Italy, Cuba, Austria, Hungary, Germany and France.

“Hopefully in September we will kick off some more clinics,” said Plümacher. “Our goal is to put a team or two here in New York City so that we can compete and maybe go over and play the Italians.”

Best of Puppy Friday

Fridays are one of our favorite days of the week on our New York After Dark Facebook page.

Why? Because we get to share the adorable faces of these guide dogs in the making during Puppy Friday!

Why do we feature future service dogs every Friday? They remind us that even the smallest beings can end up making a huge difference! Especially in the lives of the 2% of New Yorkers who live each day in the dark.

Anne Frank said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” (And, that even applies to puppies!)

Be sure to “Like” us on Facebook so that you can get your weekly dose of cuteness.

Want even more? Then be sure to follow these organizations as well:
Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind | America’s Vet Dogs | Australian Working Dog Rescue | Leader Dogs for the Blind | Guiding Eyes for the Blind | The Seeing Eye


Did you know that there are approximately 10,000 guide dog teams currently working in the US?

10,000 Guide Dog Teams

First Ever Disability Pride Parade in NYC

This past Sunday was a momentous one for the New York After Dark family. As Mayor Bill de Blasio says in the video: “Sometimes you get to say you were at a first. You were at an historical moment. We are sharing an historical moment together – New York City’s first ever Disability Pride Parade.”

The event kicked off with remarks from Senator Tom Harkin – the author of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is celebrating its 25th Anniversary.

In the video you can see highlights from the parade, including the smiling faces of the over 3,000 participants.

Congrats to the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities and Disability Pride Day NYC for organizing an amazing event! We look forward to next years parade.

Disability Pride Events for July

In honor of the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, New York City is celebrating Disability Pride throughout July with ADA25NYC.
According to the ADA25NYC website: “The Big Apple leads the United States and the world in so many fields, and this historic initiative is no exception. We’re going to host the biggest celebration in the nation this summer and throughout 2015. We’ll inspire New Yorkers to set – and expect – a new standard for accessibility in our own city, the nation, and beyond.”

Here is a round up of events that allow you to join in the celebration!

Disability Pride Parade logoDisability Pride Parade

Kick things off with the first ever Disability Pride Parade on Sunday, July 12th! The parade kicks off at Madison Square Park at noon, traveling down Broadway to Union Square. The parade will culminate with an extravaganza on the big stage featuring performances from disabled musicians, dancers and comedians – including our friend Frank Senior!

Click here for more info on the Disability Pride Parade.
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Navigating NYC While Blind

Navigating NYC can be tricky for just about anyone – but imagine what it’s like for the visually impaired?

Here are some insights – or  ‘Film Facts’ – that we’ve gained since starting this project.

Perpetual Construction in NYC
This photo features our subject, Daniel Aronoff, attempting to cross a street with major construction happening. As he approaches a ditch, a construction worker helps to guide him around it. As Daniel says “NYC is a place of perpetual construction. You never know when you’re going to find scaffolding, a manhole, ditches…”

After the winter we had, there is certainly a lot of work happening to help fix the many potholes around the city, making it tricky to navigate for just about anyone.

And there is also the matter of knowing when to cross a street safely.

In the video below, Daniel is crossing 23rd Street in Manhattan towards Eataly – one of the few audibly cued crosswalks. Did you know – out of 12,460 intersections in NYC, only 99 have audibly cued crosswalks?

Another #FilmFact – at the time we began production (and this video was shot), there were just 77 audibly cued crosswalks. But thanks to Councilman Mark Levine and Mayor DeBlasio’s “Vision Zero” initiative to improve pedestrian safety in NYC, that is changing. With the introduction of Bill 216-B, the number of accessible pedestrian signals installed will triple each year from 25 to 75.

Please spread the word about our project by sharing across social media using the hashtag #nyafterdarkfilm

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