Sean DeMaris: One very unique aspect that we provide is a doggy daycare for the leader dogs. Athletes will leave their dogs, typically 30-40 dogs per day, with volunteers that take care of them throughout the day, monitoring them and providing food and water. We have volunteers that bring in activities and equipment for the dogs as well.
We also provided a training opportunity for hotel and restaurant staff with the Iowa Department for the Blind, helping them to understand how to accommadate blind or visually impaired individuals. They covered helpful tips such as paper clips on the top of the hotel key cards so the guest knows which way to insert the card for their room. The most important thing that came out of the training is to treat these individuals like normal. Just because they have a disability doesn’t mean they are handicapped by any means. It was a great learning experience for our community.
Additionally, we provided an opportunity for restaurants to have their menus printed in braille, if they didn’t already, and then we had those menus available at the registration desk. Blind and visually impaired residents in our community benefited from that as those menus went back to each restaurant after the tournament.
MM: What did you learn from hosting in 2012 that will carry through to 2016?
SD: We’ll be better prepared from a medical standpoint in 2016. In 2012 we only staffed based on a regular baseball or softball game. Very light scuffs here or there. There’s a lot of contact in beep baseball as players are constantly throwing themselves to the ground, stretching out for these bases. They’re hitting the ground... there’s a lot of torn elbows, broken collarbones, legs, etc. and the medical teams weren’t quite prepared for that. We increased medical staff throughout the week, but in 2016 we’ll be beefing up that medical presence.
We also need to make sure we continue to know and understand their sport and their equipment. The NBBA relies on us and the local organizing committee to get the equipment set up each day and repair and replace things throughout the tournament. In my golf cart, I always had extra bases and wires on me at all times so I could switch out bases as needed.
DeMaris concluded that, “the World Series is made up of teams throughout the world (in 2012, Taiwain won), so it’s a true World Series with passionate individuals that look forward to this each year. It’s a very unique organization that’s fun to be around.”
Since 1976, the National Beep Baseball Association (NBBA) has provided an adaptive version of America’s favorite pastime for the blind, low-vision, and legally blind.
Beep baseball lasts six innings, has no second base, and batters get four strikes and one pass ball. First and third bases are four-foot padded cylinders with speakers. They contain sounding units that give off a continuous buzzing sound when activated. When a player hits the ball, they must identify the correct buzzing base and run to it before the ball is fielded by a defensive player. A run is scored if the runner is safe; there is no running from one base to another.
Each team has a sighted pitcher and catcher. The pitcher must clearly verbalize two words: “ready” just before the ball is about to be released, and “pitch” or “ball” as the ball is being released.
The baseball includes a sounding unit as well, allowing the defensive players to locate the ball. They also use spotters to help identify the general direction a ball is traveling.
You can find more information about how beep baseball is played by visiting www.nbba.org/info.htm.
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