This is the follow on from my previous post: The Do’s of Interacting With Blind People. If you haven’t already, check it out here:
As I mentioned before, I am going to refer to anyone who is Severely Sight Impaired as Visually Impaired (VIP), as it’s a broader spectrum in my opinion and I don’t want to offend anyone.
- Please don’t shout or raise your voice! We are Visually Impaired, not hearing Impaired! We can hear you at your normal level, as long as we’re not in a very busy, crowded place of course!
- Likewise, don’t talk slowly to us or speak down to us as if we are stupid because you think we have learning disabilities too. It’s frustrating to say the least, and if you catch us on a bad day, you might feel the sharp end of our tongue! I would like t to point out that although there are plenty of people in the world who have other disabilities alongside a Visual Impairment. it’s not a normality of having a Visual Impairment.
- If you’re going to hand us something, for example a drink, or handing us back an item that we just gave you, don’t just hold your hand out expecting us to take it from you, Imagine closing your eyes and trying to take something out of another persons hands without them meeting you halfway (verbally), it would be a struggle to say the least, you might even end up knocking the object out of the other persons hand. Now relate that to VIPs, we would always prefer for you to give us a verbal warning that you are handing us something, (the VIP will most likely extend their hands), to keep things simple and avoid any accidents it’s best to put the object straight into the VIPs hands, that way there is no confusion or awkward flailing.
- Please don’t use the word handicapped (I know this is mostly an american verb), but you never know who might read this! 😉 Handicapped is a very derogatory term in Britain and we would ask you never to use it, I know some VIPs don’t like the term disabled either, as it has negative connotations behind it, but personally I don’t have an issue with it, and use it all the time. 🙂
- If you see a VIP in the street/ town using a cane, or Guide Dog, don’t just stop and stare! It’s rude! Secondly, and most importantly; if you see us coming towards you: DO NOT wait until the very last second to dramatically move out the way of us. OR do a little jump over our cane at the latest possible second. This is down right laziness on your part, and quite frankly if you do it to me and I catch your ankles or trip you up, I shall not apologise and have ZERO sympathy! Remember we’re the ones who cannot see, it’s your duty to avoid us not the other way around!
- Also, women with pushchairs that think they own the pavement, you don’t! So be courteous and move, aside, or at the very least, announce your arrival. The amount of times i’ve hear a buggy coming towards me; i’ve deliberately slowed down,, or even moved across, yet the cane gets trapped under the buggy because you kept walking at me… Please be vigilant, i’ll try my best but I need to stay in a straight line as this is my route, I will not cross the mall or the road to avoid you and your buggy, it’s a chair to push your young child in, not a ramming aid, lets all be friends yeah?
- It’s totally OK to use words such as see, look, watch, read, view. It’s part of our vocabulary and to avoid it like the plague, or apologise for including these specific words in conversation, makes us feel more awkward for you. I do watch TV and I love reading books. If you ask if I listened to the TV or a book (because you know, now that you can’t see, you can’t read now),I will correct you, and may not always be so polite about it. It’s one of my biggest annoyances!
- Please don’t ignore a VIP, there’s nothing worse than leaving a VIP out of the conversation just because we can’t see fully, or at all. Without the the ability to see visual cues, we might not be able to see that cute puppy on your phone, but it doesn’t mean we’re not interested. Take a second or two to describe the photo/ scenery, we can build a picture in our mind an probably will have the same “Awwww” reaction as you did.
- Never speak to the person we are with. We’re the one asking for assistance looking for that perfect Christmas gift idea in store.
- Or if you are ever in a situation with a VIP and the person addresses you, politely mention that the VIP can speak for themselves, you aren’t their interpreter.
- “Wow, you probably have super senses like Daredevil right?!” Umm no love, I’m sorry to disappoint but he’s a fictional character, and a Superhero at that…. Our listening skills, touch and taste, are probably slightly advanced, but that’s because we’ve spent time honing those skills, to improve our daily living tasks, and enjoy the world around us a bit more.
- Never assume we need help, if you see us walking around the street looking lost or stressed, approach us and ask if we’d like assistance. then, wait for us to accept or decline.
We know you’re just trying to be a good person and help a lost soul, but sometimes our bumbling, and hitting each gate more than once, might actually mean we’re OK and just counting them to find our friend’s house.
- Similarly, never grab us! Taking our arm and lifting it practically above our head, holding onto our wrist and pulling us about, or worst yet, grabbing the cane, and moving it for us.
Again, we know you’re trying to be helpful, but you should let the VIP take your arm, or gently scoop your arm into their hand, so they aren’t flailing about. It’s truly socially awkward to be grabbed, thrust or pulled about, never mind it could be uncomfortable, so please be aware to ask the VIP how they prefer to be guided if they accept your offer of help.
- If you see a VIP with a guide dog on harness, do not touch, stop or interact with the dog. At that moment in time they are working, and distracting them could confuse both the dog and the VIP.
If the guide dog is not on harness, it should be OK to interact with them, but you should always ask permission from the owner first, it’s still their dog at the end of the day.
- “Can you see how many fingers i’m holding up?” “
Guess who this is!”
Sorry, am I a performing monkey here for your pleasure? No I thought not! Don’t try and be funny or clever. Because you’ll be the person left looking stupid when we shoot a sarcastic remark at your ignorance.
- If you’re at our house, please don’t arrange our furniture! I appreciate your input dear old Aunty Joan, but I like my pots and pans in this cupboard! Moving our stuff about in our home, and not telling us, could leave us searching in earnest for that object. We wouldn’t come to your house and start interior designing, so don’t think it’s OK for you to move our stuff. Thanks 🙂
- Your in an airport, speak to assistance and they say someone will be with you shortly. Along comes Dave with a wheelchair… “Hi Ms Pants i’m here to assist you, if you just want to sit in the wheelchair, we’ll be right off.”
“Umm Dave, I don’t need a wheelchair thanks, my eye’s are the problem here not my legs… Make sure you’re not that guy. Just because your airport assistance rules say it’s safer for me to use the wheelchair, doesn’t mean I’m going to use it. Go give it to Granny Gene over there, her mobility seems strained.
- Never pity us. OK I get we’re dealing with a hardship, and daily tasks may take us much longer to do, or we’d do it in such a way that might look a bit odd, but hey, it’s our life and you gotta get on with it. Saying “Oh you’re so brave.” isn’t something I get particularly offended about, but there are some Vips that truly do get offended by this statement.. Don’t say statements like this. true bravery is running into a burning building to save a neighbour, or stepping in to stop a person being attacked. These people are brave, we’re just ealing with the cards that we were dealt.
- If we’re struggling and hear you passing by, we may call out and ask for your assistance, whether that be reading a sign or confirming directions. Please don’t worry we aren’t going to ask you to carry us somewhere! Seriously though, if we ask for directions; DO NOT point! You know the white cane we were swinging about, or that big Guide Dog we have on harness, that gives you a visual clue we can’t see very well. if at all. Engage your brain and explain using your left and right. Big thanks to those that get this!! 🙂
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There is never such a thing as a dumb question. It’s all about how you approach the topic, and deliver the question. (Minus the how many fingers am I holding up!). “Were you born blind?” “How does your guide dog know when it’s safe to cross the road?” These questions probably have been asked more than once in the VIP’s lifetime, but generally they are happy to answer your questions, and sometimes a fantastic conversation can come from talking to a stranger, or giving your friend that further insight. 🙂
I’m sorry if this post seems a bit ranty,I was trying to be a bit more humorous, but if not, I do apologise!
Have any of these happened to you?
Any Don’ts you think i’ve forgotten, post them in the comments below, and i’ll be sure to add them! 🙂
Thanks so much for reading! !
Much love, Sassy x