Even when it comes to helping people find a good restaurant, Dan Aronoff does his best to assist others. A brain tumor took his vision at the age of three, but that hasn't stopped this long-time RFB&D/Learning Ally member from conquering New York City's public transportation system in his quest to put some of the City's finest restaurants to a "blind taste test."
Now studying to get his license in social work, Dan plans to do everything he can to help others with disabilities. "I would love to help others who are blind, but whatever I do, my passion is helping. Whether the job is at an agency, a nonprofit or even a hospital, if I can help someone, I want to do it."
Dan's first days as a blogger began in 2008 when he would write about his life, his sweet tooth and love of sports. Today, he visits restaurants in New York City and posts his critique to The Real Blind Taste Test
"The Blind Taste Test really describes how I go about critiquing the restaurant,” he says. “I have different aspects that I make sure to cover." His analysis goes beyond just critiquing food, as he considers how comfortable the chairs are, the quality of customer service, and even the noises he encounters throughout the restaurant.
"Most of the places I write about on my blog are places where I enjoyed the experience. I like to post positive reviews and I'm interested in what others think, too. I want it to be an interactive experience."
Sometimes these visits take two or three subway rides and long walks, but Dan says he is used to transportation in New York City. "I started taking the bus when I was nine years old. I know it sounds crazy because that's so young, but it gave me the experience to get around and have the ability to be independent and self-sufficient."
For another project called Accessible New York, Dan traveled around the city visiting venues and restaurants to see how accessible they were. He worked with a team to check on things like ramps for wheelchairs, Braille menus for the blind and working elevators. "That project was definitely about helping people. We had a survey we would fill out at each location and that would help us rate the venues for people with disabilities."
This passion for helping those with disabilities translates well to the degree Dan just earned from Lehman College. He received his Masters in Social Work and is now studying to get his license. Before that, Dan attended Borough of Manhattan Community College and earned his associates degree in human services.
Dan reads Braille and uses Learning Ally's audiobooks at home, school and to study. "I have the Victor Reader Stream which I had full of books from Learning Ally all this year. I listen to fiction and all my textbooks for school."
Before Dan can obtain a license in social work, he must pass the four-hour exam, which includes 170 questions. "The tests have very dense multiple choice problems, so now I'm preparing for those paragraph-length questions by studying the theories and taking mock tests online.
"I would not be at the point I am today without Learning Ally. There were times when textbooks were not already available and Learning Ally would record them just for me! Of course, other people can use them too, now. The further along I've gone in life, the harder it's been to find certain textbooks. When I got to the graduate level, if Learning Ally wouldn't have been there for me, I would have no textbooks at all.
"The support they've given me throughout the years is amazing. I really can't thank them enough."
You can follow Dan Aronoff on Twitter
; and visit his Blind Taste Test blog