Country artist, nightclub welcome visually impaired ‘Back to the Honky Tonks’

Deryl Dodd. Photo courtesy of Richard Calooy.

ROCKWALL, TX (October 7, 2014) Dallas-born singer/songwriter Deryl Dodd is best known for country hits like “Tony Lama Boots,” “Friends Don’t Drive Friends,” and “Back to the Honky Tonks.” But Dodd is more than a popular musician; he is an advocate for people with disabilities.

Dodd has performed benefit concerts for children with Eagle-Barrett syndrome, a rare abdominal muscle deficiency also known as “Prune Belly syndrome.”

In 1999, Dodd suffered his own life-changing illness – viral encephalitis. After 18 months of rehabilitation and re-learning to play the guitar, he was back on the road touring with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.

For the past eight-years, Dodd has worn a necklace displaying a word written in Braille – “FAITH.” Given to him by a member of his band, he saw the Braille necklace as a symbol to have blind faith every day.

This, and his determination to overcome obstacles, has led Dodd to support to those who are blind or visually impaired.

Now, as the country star draws crowds to local restaurants and nightclubs with his musical performances, he is raising awareness, so the blind can enjoy appropriate accommodations at area dining and entertainment venues.

“People who are blind do not like to go out alone,” explained Marci Duty, who is visually impaired. The main problem, she pointed out, is that most restaurants do not offer menus in Braille, nor do they have websites that are accessible with screen reading software.

Duty joined “The Dinner Winners,” a social group for the blind created by Dallas area resident Ann Phillips. Members gather for dinner once a week and experience new restaurants and bars.

When Southern Junction in Royse City heard about The Dinner Winners, the restaurant wanted to make sure they felt welcome. Dodd will perform live on Saturday, November 22, and together, Dodd and Southern Junction will welcome the visually impaired Dinner Winners “Back to the Honky Tonks.”

“Deryl Dodd is just like family. He is a humanitarian,” said General Manager Elizabeth Gaddis. “We are happy to make the accommodations for the Dinner Winners and train the waiters on what to do.”

With a menu that is “short and to the point,” the wait staff can vocalize the entrees, drinks and other offerings, and successfully accommodate those who are visually impaired.

“We will show them how to cook their own steaks or we will do it for them. This will be a great night!” said Gaddis.

By Blue Ribbon News guest columnist Kristie Smith, a teacher for the blind, who writes about parenting and child development.  She authored a series of novels about a blind girl detective, and has written more than 15 activity books for children with special needs. 

Related Story: Singer/Songwriter Competition underway at Southern Junction

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