I know just how she feels

June 4, 2016 • Posted in blindness, careers/jobs for people who are blind, Uncategorized by
Frank Lloyd Wright played here, and so have I.

Frank Lloyd Wright played here, and so have I.

Guess who spent a Saturday afternoon last year playing the very same piano architect Frank Lloyd Wright practiced on 100+ years ago?


The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust was one of 31 cultural organizations that partnered with Chicago’s ADA 25 for 25 Cultural Access Project last year. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2015, the trust offered special ASL and touch-tours of its historic sites.

The goal of the 25 for 25 Project was to help at least 25 cultural organizations in Chicago commit to improving accessibility for visitors with disabilities in 2015 in some concrete way, and then put plans in place to continue to take steps to improve accessibility after the 2015 anniversary year.

The success of last year’s tours motivated the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust to continue offering accessible programming, and last week Laura Dodd, the trust’s Director of Operations and Guest Experience, emailed me and forwarded a thank-you letter she’d just received from an exchange student from Poland who is blind and got to tour some pretty special houses. “I want to share a proud moment,” Laura said, and I was glad she did

Monica also visited Robie House in Chicago, in addition to taking the Oak Park tours.

Monica also visited Robie House in Chicago, in addition to taking the Oak Park tours.

Here’s the back story: Monika Dubiel had contacted Laura Dodd after completing a semester at University of North Carolina. She’d be visiting friends of her parents in Oak Park, Illinois when the Wright Plus house walk (an annual event where private home owners open their homes to visitors) would be going on and wanted to know if there might be some way she could take in the house tours, too.

Laura told me that in the past she wouldn’t have been able to make this kind of accommodation with only a weeks notice — or even a month’s notice. “But with all the things I learned {from 25 in 25} and the confidence I have gained, we easily said yes to her request.”

I was so moved by the thank you note Monica wrote to Laura afterward that I contacted the young woman directly to ask permission to share her note with you Safe & Sound blog readers. Here it is:

Dear Laura,

I write to you to thank you for the marvelous opportunity that you
gave me to enjoy the Frank Loyd and his friend’s architecture. The
house walk on past saturday was for me amazing and unforgettable

I especially would like to say thank you to the Rubby,
the trainee who helped us all the day by telling about the places
which we were visiting. She spent with us whole day navigating us from
house to house and dealing with house captains private tours.

Also all volunteers in houses ware very nice and open minded. In some houses I
could touch whatever I wanted because the owners were there and they
gave their personal permission to me. It was incredible to fill all
these furnitures and decorations.

I’m so glad that I could do that.

You can’t imagine how grateful I am.

I also would like to ask about visiting Frank Loyd house and Studio
& the Robie House. We talked about me coming on upcoming Saturday, but
it turned out that I will be on Thursday in Hyde Park, next to Robbie
House So I would like to ask if I can visit it on thursday?

I hope you have a good day.

Best regards,

Monika Dubiel

Monica did indeed get a chance to visit both the Robie House and the Frank Lloyd Wright House and Studio. Those are two locations I was able to experience first-hand, so to speak, last year thanks to the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust’s willingness to join 25 in 25. Now Monica is off to Washington D.C. to do an internship at the Polish embassy, where she’ll probably know more about Frank Lloyd Wright than anyone else working there. zpiecznej podróży!

A version of this post appeared on the Easterseals National Blog June 3, 2016.

Mel Theobald On June 4, 2016 at 6:42 pm

Beth, what a wonderful experience for Monika. In so many ways we think of simplicity in modernism as a feature of openness and minimalism. It is really inspiring to know that such distinctions can also be understood through the touching of surfaces and conceptualizing of space. You guys are pioneering a whole new way of experiencing architecture.

bethfinke On June 4, 2016 at 8:40 pm

You are big to say such things, Mel — I know you are still jealous of me touching the same piano keys FLW played on decades ago…


Mel Theobald On June 4, 2016 at 10:08 pm

You bet I am. Who wouldn’t want to tickle that keyboard? I bet you rocked it when you sat on that piano bench. How else can I say it? You bring out the best in all of us with these stories. What did you play and when will the CD be available?

bethfinke On June 5, 2016 at 8:56 am

I played Duke Ellington’s F Blues. CD is, umm, in the works.


Linda Miller On June 5, 2016 at 9:01 am

Wow that’s impressive…from an accessible FLW home and studio to a multi-house tour! I remember that piano moment as a very cool highlight of a fun afternoon with you.

bethfinke On June 5, 2016 at 9:04 am

What a coincidence –that’s how I remember it, too, Linda!


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