This weeks’ post is going to be a controversial one. For those who don’t know, I was born sighted, and still had some usable vision until 2013. I’ve met many people with Visual Impairments, varying greatly on the spectrum of blindness, and during this time Ive picked up on the bad habits instilled within blind people. Those who were born blind, or, had some vision in their early years but it deteriorated.

I will admit that I know I shouldn’t judge people, for their mannerisms, or ways of coping with their eye condition, but I feel that these are the reasons why the public have such a disconnection with the blind community, and underestimate the capabilities of blind / Visually Impaired people.

  • Head spinning, rocking and hand flapping.For those who don’t know blind people do this to gain spacial awareness, and get stimulation from their environment. As a person with sight would scan a room with their eyes and take in information: therefore creating stimulation for their eyes and brain, totally blind people cannot do this, so may resort to doing those blindisms mentioned above.
    I can understand fully why a blind person may do this, but it’s evident that it’s not necessary for them to do this; parents and schools, especially special education schools should be educating blind people about the non verbal world of body language and the non verbal world of motor skills overflow.These mannerisms are socially awkward because the public as a whole do not do this. It’s dizzying to sit chatting to a blind person who sits or stands continuously nodding their head from side to side, or rocking frantically. I’m not saying it’s right but the public who have never interacted with a blind person before, and then came across him/her doing this, could confuse them and even in some circumstances put them off talking to that blind person.
    Teaching blind children about being aware and the concept of body language, would be positive as they will have more social inclusion from their peers, and future interactions, instead of being excluded for their strange mannerisms.
  • poking/ rubbing their eyes.

This is where blind people forcibly stick their finger in their eye(s), or rub them vigorously. It is a type of nervous/ comforting mannerism that some blind people do when they are nervous or bored. It’s a psychological habit rather than a medically necessary thing to do.
Being around a blind person who does this can be quite distressing to a sighted person. Not only does it look painful but eyes are commonly known to make people squeamish. Watching a blind person do this may make the sighted person uncomfortable, and they may not interact with that person again.

  • Walking like a zombie Its common for a blind person to walk with their hand slightly outstretched infant of them when they are not walking around with their cane or guide dog. This is normal, and a safety precaution for ensuring they do not injure themselves when walking around unaided.
    What is not expected is where a blind person has their hands and arms outstretched to their fullest length as they walk around somewhere familiar / unfamiliar. I’ve fallen victim to this way of walking and been touched, even when I gave a verbal warning i was there.
    Another way of walking is the zombie style walk, whereby the blind person has their arms outstretched fully, their wrists bent, and dragging their feet across the ground.
    If you have ever seen a blind person do these types of walks you’ll know how creepy it looks, and you have to swiftly manoeuvre out of their way as not to be tangled with a blind person, or, touched inappropriately.
    There is a big difference between slightly extending your hand, and walking round flailing your arms about.Again this needs to be discouraged by parents and the education system so the blind person can understand how to be safe
    without looking or acting strange.
  • Blind people who insist “I can’t do it because i’m blind”.This is a major problem in the blind community because it encourages and reinforces the public to step in and lend a hand, because clearly that blind person can’t do anything for themselves.
    I’ve noticed this behaviour predominately in people who had been wrapped in cotton wool by their parents, and not allowed to do things on their own and make mistakes. Equally, and most ironically i’ve noticed this statement coming from a blind person who used to be sighted, and had unfortunately lost their sight. These people are generally lazy and refuse to do things on their own,waiting for the assistance of others, and if that offer of help is not given, that person is the first to jump in with :I can’t see you know!”
    There is a difference between phoning The hospital and asking to be put through to a receptionist as you cannot read the NHS number on the top of your letter, and not getting yourself a glass of water in a place you know because “I can’t see”.
    When people first lose sight whether that be 5% or 95%, the world around us does become more difficult, a bit stressful and even sometimes a little scary. but as humans we are programmed to adapt, and learning to adjust to our new situation and environment. When blind people have been blind all their life, or for over a year, they should have learnt basic skills in the form of rehabilitation, even the possibility of having psychological support. There isn’t an excuse for being less independent than you want, so you shouldn’t allow yourself to become a stereotype of the blind person who cannot do anything on their own.
  • Not looking at the person you are interacting with.The person may be totally blind or Even Visually Impaired, but I have noticed a lot over the years that those who have lost their sight completely, tend not to look at the person they are talking to. In some instances even their body is turned away from the person too. It is extremely strange and socially awkward because humans are wired to communicate by looking at one another, so if your head, body or both is facing away from the other person, it can come across as disinterest on your part.
    This particular blindism confuses me the most; just because you cannot see the person you are talking to doesn’t mean you can’t hear the direction of the sound. Blind people really need to understand that it’s not about physically looking with their eyes at the person, because in the majority of cases the other person will either notice you cannot see, or will dismiss it and still look at your face. For you then to have your body and head turned away looks uninviting and rude.Again I think more needs to be done to educate the public that even if the person cannot see you, they will try and look in your general direction to indicate they are listening and communicating. Likewise, and most importantly, children (and adults) need to be told to turn around to face you, even if thats by giving verbal communication “I’m at your 2 O’Clock”.
    From what i’ve gathered over time, the blind person doesn’t notice that they are off centre, but even if they did, it should be encouraged for them to turn to face you. A gentle explanation will go a long way, into keeping the communication fluid, and less awkward.
  • Blind people who would rather be guided than using their cane. This is where the blind person does not take their cane out with them, or keeps it out of sight, preferring to be guided instead.
    There does seem to be a stigma within the blind community that if you have some sight, you shouldn’t use your cane: Some VIPs prefer not to use a cane as they don’t want to become a target of prejudice/ seen as vulnerable.
    I myself refused to use a cane until my sight got so bad I could barely see in front of my own nose.
    I’ve even noticed this with totally blind people, asking to be guided rather than using their cane. This is where I don’t get it. A cane is a blind or Visually Impaired persons’ aid to get them around safely and swiftly, but it’s also a sign to sighted people that they need to be aware you have limited or no vision. It’s a sign for the sighted person just as well as an aid for the blind person. It’s OK to do this once in a while, but not on a frequent basis. i’ve noticed that throughout my life as a Visually Impaired person.
    Being guided as you use your cane (known as assertive guiding), or walking closely beside your friend/ family member/ partner, is far more safe than purely being guided alone. Using a cane gives you the independence to get around,. Not relying on another to be your guide,or having no real knowledge of where you are.I find it funny that I’ve done a full 360 as a Visually Impaired person, refusing to use a cane through fear of being a target or being judged. And now I’m an advocate for it! But I truly believe more education needs to be given to the public on blindness: what it means to use a cane / guide dog, and how it gives us the independence and freedom we want to get around, just like everyone else.

Disclosure*** These are my own thoughts and opinions on what i’ve experienced and noticed over the years as a Visually Impaired/ blind person. I feel there is not enough education for the public surrounding disabilities in general and action needs to be taken to not only explain how having a disability doesn’t make you incapable of doing things, but we might take a different route to get to the same destination.

I also believe fully that blind children need to be discouraged from part taking in blind mannerisms, and be taught properly how to use their spacial awareness. Everyone uses body language to communicate even whether you realise it or not, and blind children should be taught about it, and learn to listen out for other signs of body language that people don’t always realise they are giving off. For example when a person is smiling as they talk, you can hear it in their voice. Being blind doesn’t mean children should be excluded from learning visual cues or intonation, so they too can be included in conversations, and act in socially appropriate ways.

I know it sounds terrible but the fact of the matter is, that was a society we conform to the social norms in order to fit in. As well as to understand the world around us better. I don’t think any children with a disability shouldn’t have the same concepts and fundamentals as everyone else. We all want to be liked and accepted. Even if that means socially conforming, especially when it has no medical resonance to the person. We should try and expel these awkward behaviours so people aren’t looked over and ignored.

54 comments on “Things I Don’t Get About Blind People”

  1. What an interesting post, I really enjoyed reading it, unlike anything I have read before since blogging, thanks for sharing, was brave of you. #abitofeverything

    • Hey Tammy 🙂 I hope that is your name and not just a blogging link haha. Yhank you so much for commenting on my blog, I appreciate you taking the time to do so, your feedback is really great and i’m grateful for every comment I get 🙂 I know it’s a bit of an out there post… fingers crossed I don’t get too much hate for! Looking forward to reading more from you on the Linky 🙂 xxx

    • Hey, I appreciate your comment! The majority of my posts will be linked to disability, and blindness in general so I hope av I don’t bore you in future Linkys! xxx

    • I have not read any of your previous posts, however, this was posted on the VI-talk Facebook page and has resulted in a long list of comments. I will paste below my initial comment and reaction to your post. It has certainly started up a discussion on the Facebook page.

      Some valid points but somewhat harshly stated. I think many blind children have an additional disability which may affect their behaviour (some form of learning disability for example). As for rehabilitation or psychological support, in many areas this is either not available or the person concerned doesn’t know its available. We all know these services don’t come looking for you. Laziness is an easy word to throw at others from the sunny side of the fence. We don’t know what other things in another persons life cause them to behave in the way they do apart from their blindness. Lack of confidence or opportunity i feel is a more likely cause for their inability. Just because one visually impaired person can achieve a certain task doesn’t mean that everyone else should also do it. I get annoyed with media stories proclaiming that some super-hero disabled person has climbed Everest or walked across the north pole. Good for them as a personal achievement, but, did they do it alone without the support of others? Unlikely! When they return home will they be able to do their weekly shop in tesco or waitrose or shop for new clothes without assistance? Equally unlikely! I am sure fully sighted people have many antisocial manners too. Summing up, i get the question from this article, “why isn’t everyone like me?” My answer is, “because we are not you and you are not us. We are all different and unique. If we were all the same with the same abilities there would be no point in this list”.

      • Hi Lincon,
        Thank you for your feedback, and informing me of the discussion on your FaceBook page.
        I suppose in a lot of ways I wanted this post to spark a discussion. Blind and sighted people alike are entitled to their own opinions, and as this is my blog I openly welcome it. i’m more than happy for any feedback,; positive or negative – as long as it makes sense of course.
        In response to your comments:
        My post was written from my own thoughts and experiences as a blind person. I was born sighted but had to deal with the fluctuating deterioration in my vision over several years. I have been around all sorts of people with disabilities, and even went to a school for Blind people aged 11-18. Whilst I was there I met lots of different people with varying conditions, some had multiple disabilities, others had social issues. And although I have seen lots of different people with varying eye conditions this post was focused mainly on VI/Blind people with NO other disabilities or social issues.
        I understand your point that people who first lose their sight may not know of rehabilitation or psychological support but children born with any disability becomes under the care of social work, and that is their DUTY to inform disabled children and their parents of what help is out there.
        Generally people don’t just wake up blind and get on with their life; you would visit a hospital, and again it’s the hospitals responsibility to give you the correct information and services of where you can go for support.
        Unfortunately that doesn’t always happen, and I myself was in the same situation when I was registered disabled as a child, my family and I knew nothing of support groups, and financial support out there. But it is out there and the people in charge need to be looking and supporting those who need it, and it annoys me that this doesn’t happen.
        Laziness was not just thrown out there as a dismissive and judgemental comment. You do not know the people I know, and who I have encountered. Yes there are lazy people in this world and it doesn’t just stop because they are disabled in some way. If a person is fundamentally lazy that will continue.
        I shall give you an example.
        I was in a meeting,, and the blind woman’s’ phone rang, she stopped the meeting to get the speaker to retrieve the phone out of her bag, answer it for her and then tel her who was calling. This woman has speech on her phone, and was NOT expecting an important call. = The proof is there – anyone can be lazy not just able bodied people.

        I fully agree with your comment on not assuming everyone who is blind should be able to do everything another blind person can do, that is not how the world works, if we were all the same we’d be robots. I also get irritated with those media stories, but unfortunately that IS the media, and unless people like myself stand up for disabled people and challenge the stereotypes or *spectacular* people we’ll always be seen as vulnerable and insignificant.

        I also agree that sighted people can have bad manners or strange habits too, but those people are usually singled out too, and pulled up on their behaviour.
        My article was not asking “why isn’t everyone like me?”
        My aim is to educate people on disabilities, whilst giving an honest opinion from my perspective. I’ve created my blog to raise awareness, and allow discussion, otherwise i’d be writing a private diary.
        Not every blind person will act in the same way, feel the same way, or have the same coping strategies as another VI/Blind person, because that’s what makes us human.
        What also makes us human however, is the need to feel wanted and accepted in society, and if that means to conform socially by not exerting blind mannerisms, the majority will do it.
        I studied psychology at University, so I know a fair bit about human behaviour 🙂
        Thanks for your comments, it’s great to hear it from another perspective Tell your friends if they feel like leaving a comment here they are more than welcome.
        Also check out my other posts; i’m really not all that bad 🙂

  2. This is a really interesting post. The blind people (and other physically disabled people) I’ve met have all been very independent and very capable of doing things themselves. It must be very frustrating that there are people who either play on the disability or refuse to try. Especially when it means you spend so much of your time trying to put off well intentioned people from doing things for you. #abitofeverything

    • Hey Debbie,
      You’re exactly right! I’ve spent the majority of my life declining help from people as i’ve always been very independent and very stubborn! I will admit that since losing my sight i’ve taken help more readily especially if i’m actually lost or getting myself worked up! So many people who have disabilities are extremely independent and live life fully, but there is always the minority that who refuse to do so and expect the world to revolve around them. Unfortunately these are the same people that tend to be on documentaries and such like; giving a bad and very stereotypical view of a helpless person not being able to function without the help of others. But I suppose when the media portray it that way, you can’t be frustrated at the public offering a hand and just trying to show kindness. This is where I hope to spread that little bit of information so people don’t over extend themselves when it might not be needed. Thanks for your comment and feedback 🙂 xxx

  3. Hi. I totally agree with what has been said here. I’m blind and will admit that I do rock sometimes and even put my hands,, (made in to fists,) in to my eyes. Do I think it makes me look cool? or “Normal?” Nope. Can I stop it, yeah probably. Will I? I doubt it. if I’m standing still sometimes I’ll move from one foot to another or rock slightly. Although saying all that, I don’t see it as shameful, it’s just part of me. If I was shown that it wasn’t nice for a sighted person to watch as a child, I think I might have stopped doing it.

    I was shocked, when I found out that other blind people do this too and a lot lot more than I do. I understand it’s to get a feeling for a space or something like that, but when you’re rocking from side to side so much that you’re body is probably going to fall over, that’s when it needs to stop.

    I’m hoping to get out more and when I do, maybe these habits will stop if I make sited friends, who knows.

    As for the guiding thing; I agree. People should use there canes when they are guiding. Sometimes I am lazy and will just take the persons elbow. Most times I use my cane though and see where you’re coming from.

    As for the “I’m blind” thing, yeah I’ve heard about that one. It seems to be a very US based blind thing since in the UK (Where I’m from,) it doesn’t seem to happen. But I was told by a friend that she had a friend, who did that and I honestly couldn’t understand it at all. I mean the rocking and putting hands in your eyes I don’t get either; but at least I know they’re habits of sorts. We know you’re blind but that shouldn’t stop you from at least giving what ever you’re trying to do a go and then if you really can’t do it or need help, then ask.

    • Hi Brad,
      Firstly I would like to thank you for commenting, I appreciate the feedback, especially hearing it from another VIP’s point of view 🙂
      I’m sorry if the way I wrote it made it seem like it’s shameful behaviour, I think it should be discouraged but I don’t see it as shameful.
      If you don’t mind me asking; why do you rub your eyes? Is it a habit through nervousness/ comforting as I mentioned above? If you don’t want to stop, then that is completely within your right, I think these habits are extremely hard to break especially if they are a form of comfort, but I thank you for your opens and explaining that if you had realised from a young age, then you may have stopped.

      I also agree with the rocking; and in my time as a VIP I have seen all forms of rocking; the gentle shuffling, to the all out head banging whereby you think they are going to fall flat on their face.

      The cane situation as i mentioned above was a big factor for me, and I did refuse to use it until my safety became an issue. I really wish their wasn’t a stigma around using a cane in the blind world if you have more sight, but unfortunately that is what i’ve seen and experienced for myself. I also have met people who use cane’s or even have a guide dog and have been verbally and physically harassed because they are seen as vulnerable. This makes me really sad. And I hope we as a community can educate people on the dangers that has on a VIP’s confidence and self esteem.

      Thanks again for your feedback! i’m also from the UK! 🙂 Also I hope you get yourself out in your local community and make some sighted friends, don’t be discouraged by my thoughts above; the general public are fantastic, and I have many sighted friends who see me for me and not a girl with a disability! That only comes to fruition when I walk into something and we laugh together 😉
      Take care x

      • As a new mother of a completely blind 20 month old baby I found your article very discouraging and sad. My daughter will face so many struggles throughout her life and after reading what you wrote I feel even more scared for her future. Wow even other blind people will judge her? I hope no other mothers of blind children come across this site. I also hope my daughter has something encouraging and productive to say to others as a blind adult rather than make them feel ashamed of their disability.

    • Brad, I’m in a similarly-shaped boat to yours. I’ve been blind since birth, and been a back-andforth rocker since I was about two years old. My parents were apparently told by a mobility instructor that they should help me to stop this and other blindisms, or it would become increasingly difficult for me to do so. They weren’t really interested in her advice, and I’ve been a rocker ever since. I’ve tried to stop, but half the time, I don’t even realize I’m doing it unless someone points it out to me, and just sitting stock-still feels so alien to me, I find I’d rather just risk the stares or what-have-you from others. I used to move my head back and forth. I’ve mostly curbed that, except for when I’m absorbed in playing music, and there again, I don’t even realize I’m doing it unless someone points it out. I am making a point of getting better about looking at people when I converse with them. As for the “I can’t see, you know” thing, I’m glad I’ve never been present for one of these occasions. I’d have an extremely difficult time not saying anything to the blind person. People like that _really grind my gears.

    • Exactly as I’ was educated in a school for the blind and we were told to get on with it the only time I get help is when I’m out and that is because I have only the use of arm and leg properly but on the whole I try to do everything for myself as far as possible and as for the blindissums I do it sometimes but not all the time

  4. Hi!
    Firstly let me say that this is something I’ve been wanting to read for a very long time. Body language, is so, so important. I agree with almost everything you’ve stated above. I’m a completely blind guy of 20, I’ve been blind since the age of three, so don’t remember seeing at all. One thing I would say, is the spinning/rocking isn’t always to do with spacial awareness. (I odn’t do any of these things, and never have). A lot of the time it is a lack of stimulation, and like the eye poking, which i’ve also never done, is a form of comfort. I cannot tell you how irrotated I get at blind people who will not look at you when you tlak to them, similarly to those who insist on closing their eyes at all times. Visual cues and mannerisms should be taught from an early age. As harsh as it sounds, we are the minority, and I’m all for individuality, but I for one do not want to look strange.
    on the whole your post is right on the money, well done.

    • Hey Rob,
      I would like to say (without coming across badly) that I have put both points you mentioned above within the blog post 🙂

      I’m really grateful for you feedback and glad that you agree with me, everyone is of course entitled to their own opinions but it’s nice to know that someone who is in a situation such as yours: not only DOESN’T do those blindisms, but agrees that we are the minority and it’s not socially acceptable – however harsh that may be.
      Thanks again for your comment! I’m on social platforms if you ever want to connect; or even write a guest post on my blog with your own thoughts and experiences!
      Take care x

  5. Well, you’ve set the blind community back 50 years. Your blog entry is full of negative stereotypes and severe judgments. Your opinions lead me to believe me you are, most likely, experiencing internalized oppression. I hope that both sighted and blind people will reject your prejudices.

    • Hello Beth,
      Thank you for your feedback, even though you may not personally agree with my post it would have been great if you’d given me constructive criticism, rather than just a negative attack.
      I do not believe for one minute my opinions and experiences will have set the time back 50 years; technically that’s impossible.
      If you’d like to read the comments above and below you’ll recognize blind and sighted folk alike agree and appreciate my post. I aim to educate others on disabilities: visual impairments specifically, and that’s exactly what I have done.

      Also I doubt highly that you have a doctorate or a degree in clinical psychology so you are in not position to judge whether or not I have depression internalised or otherwise. If you’d like to know a little more about me as a person; go ahead and check out my other blogs you might learn a thing or two, and therefore not be so quick to judge.
      Much love, Sassy x

  6. This is so true! I know people who display these mannerisms and I do some of the stuff you mentioned myself, although I am making an effort to stop. I think some of the things you say are a little harsh, but I get your point.

    • Hey Reanna,
      Thank you for your feedback! It’s good to know another VIP who agrees with this; even if you do them yourself. It’s great you’re trying o stop, but let that come with time 🙂
      I’m sorry to hear you think some of the blog is harsh, maybe it’s the way I write? Quite straight talking and to the point… If you don’t mind me asking, are there particular points you’d like to make in regard to the post? Or is it the blog post as a whole?

      Thanks again, take care x

  7. Hi,
    I am hugely encouraged to read your extensive comments about “Blindisms” or habitual movements and mannerisms as I prefer to say.
    I have been coordinating a project with blind students aged 16 to 25 over the last three years. We seek to instill self-awareness which allow individuals to seek strategies to control behaviours which create, as you rightly say, barriers to social acceptance and employability. I completely agree that this issue could be prioritised at a much earlier stage of a child’s development but remedial actions can still reap benefits at a later stage in life.
    There is also an association between these archetypical behaviours and those identified as being on the Autistic Spectrum, including Asperger’s Syndrome. When blindness and Autism occur together the picture becomes much more complex when attempting to address undesirable behaviours.
    We always acknowledge that there are much worse habits in the world than rocking and eye-poking but in the long term these behaviours may have an impact on health; they will certainly have a negative impact on social inclusion.
    I work supporting young visually impaired people to enter Higher Education, gain employment or move onto further training. In some cases I would be doing them a disservice if I did not mention and seek to address the “elephant in the room”!
    Please e-mail for an ongoing interchange of views. Thanks again.

    • Hi there,
      I’d be really interested to discuss this further. I shall email you this evening.
      Thank you so much for your comments and feedback!

  8. Hi! I was born blind and I definitely partake in some of these blindisms! Until about seven grade, I wouldn’t take my cane with me when I would go out with my family. I began taking it once I got tired of falling off of curbs due to them not telling me that we were approaching a curve. I also tend to lightly rest a finger on my eye as well and I have gotten asked questions like “are you OK? “”Does your I hurt? As a child, I would like to say this was a source of comfort but as I got older it just became a habit. However, my family and teachers and now even my friends whom are visually impaired were sure and are sure to let me know when I am doing it. I must say that I am 25 and now more aware of when I am doing it and I am able to correct myself right away most of the time! I try to focus on either keeping my hands on my lap or on a table especially when I’m in school and engaging with peers and professors! I have also encountered blind people who rock from side to side, move their head, or wave their arms! Because I am a person who has a blindism, I’m not saying that one blindism is better or worse than the other but The moving around also makes me really uncomfortable! So I can only imagine what these blind isms look like to sighted people! However, as you stated it is completely up to the people around the person whom is engaging in the blind is him to let them know that it is not socially excepted! But I think that’s also the problem, many people tend to let these blind isms occur because they think “oh he/she is blind so it’s OK for them to do…” It’s a double standard!

    • Hey Chakeydav,
      Thank you very much for your feedback! This is really interesting to hear you give your views on the matter. It’s really great that you decided to start using your cane (although not because it became unsafe to do so).
      It’s great that your family and friends help you to discourage your blinds. A habit is definitely hard to break, because it’s an unconscious action.
      Yes, I find it very disconcerting when blind people rock too.
      Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with me, I appreciate it!

      I’m on a few social network platforms if you’d like to connect? A guest post from someone like yourself would be great if ever you’d like to write something on your experiences as a blind person.

      Take care, xxx

  9. not sure why this post would be controversial at all. if we want to interact in a world of people who can see, there are certain norms expected and this is entirely reasonable. I remember a teacher when I was a little kid lecturing me about looking at people when we wre speaking. at the time I thought it was stupid since it made no difference to me. however, as an adult, this is really important. We should be expected to conform to social norms because the price of not doing so is far too high!. I am happy that when I was a child there were people who explained this stuff to me. even now, I like rocking when I am at home or whatever, but if I engage in that in a public setting, it has aa price. Do I want the people where I work to feel uncomfortable around me? no, and if I let that happen, it will diminish my ability to have normal social interactions with them if they feel awkward. so yeah, this stuff is really important.

    • Hey Brian,
      Thanks for your insightful feedback, it’s very much welcomed!
      I appreciate your views as I really do feel that blindisms should be discouraged, especially for that person entering into social situations such as School, College, work etc. It is a pretty sad thing that people with disabilities feel like they should conform to the norms of society but unfortunately we are the minority and it just doesn’t sit well with others if you’re rocking or rubbing your eyes vigorously.

      I also appreciate your honesty that you do rock, but you keep it to the comfort of your own home, which I think is great: You are who you are, but fully aware of the expectations within the wider world and adjust yourself accordingly.
      It’s really fantastic that you shared these views with me as it gives me a wider perspective of the blind community, but also nice to know someone else who agrees with my views and opinions. 🙂

      Take care, x

  10. Interesting. I’ve never noticed anyone doing any of these blindisms, but then again there’s nobody other than me in this area who is blind.

    Occasionally while at home and my eyes hurt, I rub them (with eyelids closed) and sometimes it relieves pressure. But never in public, unless in a bathroom stall.

    To me, eye rubbing is no different than nose blowing. Necessary at times, but not appropriate in social settings!

    • Hi Amy,

      Thanks for your comments, I appreciate it. Where about do you live if you don’t mind me asking? UK or somewhere else? Don’t worry i’m not trying to force anything on you but if you are in the UK and fancy meeting other Visually Impaired people there may be a local club or organisation you can get involved in 🙂

      I find it interesting that you refer to eye rubbing as something you would do in private, but more so because you relate it to nose blowing. Personally I think if your nose needs blowing you should do it anywhere, if you know it’s going to be loud and potentialy embarrass you then by all means remove yourself, but hey that’s just my opinion!
      Thanks again for sharing your experiences with me! 🙂

      Take care, xxx

  11. I noticed this post just now and the timing is very interesting. A few days ago, I gave a talk on independence for blind children for one of the blindness organisations over here in the Netherlands. I was asked because I in fact am one of those cottonwool wrapped blind people, something I am now reaping the rather negative consequences of. I live on my own now, independently, but I did have to learn a slew of things all at once when I moved out, I never really got the chance to learn things like doing the dishes and cooking until I had to. This does breed a very lazy attitude towards learning things that at that moment don’t seem to matter all that much, like properly holding cutlery for example. I tried to warn the people at that talk, mostly parents, to not fall into the trap of trying to do everything for their child since I personally think you hurt them more than you may realize by doing that. Which links nicely to the topic of this post: I think a lot of people don’t call blind kids out on these mannerisms is because they think it’s somehow sad or unkind to do so. Others may think its just a blind thing and leave it at that. Especially special education institutions should know better though in my opinion. I’ve done the eye poking thing, or rather I rub my palm into my eye. Why? I honestly couldn’t tell you, it’s been a reflex for as long as I can remember, something I do when I’m doing nothing else. My parents did call me out on that one and I barely do it anymore, but I remember at the time getting a little nanoyed at them pointing it out to me all the time because I just didn’t see the problem. Now I am an adult I of course know better 🙂 I agree with pretty much your entire post. What I do notice sometimes that slightly goes against what you say here is that people ask to be guided when they’re in a larger group. They would still use their cane, but doing this just makes them move a little faster whereas walking completely on their own would get them to either be at the back of the group or slow the entire group down.
    This is a testament to their cane skills to some degree, but I think in such situations you should sometimes make a decision to either be independent and slow everyone down or be guided to keep up. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that one.
    Oh and …some of your HTML is a little off, it looks like a few list items aren’t closing properly…

    • Hi Florian,
      Thank you for your feedback! Wow that’s brilliantly timed! Your talk sounds fascinating, if only you weren’t in the Netherlands!
      Thank you for being so insightful and honest about your childhood, I will say I know not every parent of a blind child over compensates and relinquishes any independence that child may want or have, but in the case such as yours it is prevalent that parents do far too much for their disabled children, and not give them that chance to flourish or become solely competent ant.
      It’s absolutely fantastic that you are now so independent and confident now 🙂 I am really happy you addressed the parents of Visually Impaired children and encouraged them not to do everything for their child, too many parents try to do the best for their children and end up doing more harm than good.

      Yes in the case of blindisms, I agree with your 100% and I couldn’t have put it any better myself! I hope to try and get in touch with organisations and special needs schools to ask them about this. As you said, we shouldn’t allow the behaviour to continue just because you feel sad for your child, or as you say, let them get on with it because it’s a part of being blind. It’s not. I know a few adults who have been blind since birth who have never exhibited those behaviours, and I also know a few adults who have lost sight early on and do not do these behaviours, but I would say this is more a minority. As long as there are parents / family and educational institutions that discourage and stop these blindisms, things would be much better, not just socially but physically for that Visually Impaired persons health too.

      Ahh in the case of being independent with your cane but but slowing the group down, I think that yes it would be a better idea for that person to be guided 🙂 it doesn’t stop them using their cane alongside them though, and that was my initial point 🙂
      I think you have made some really fantastic points and I appreciate you leaving this comment on my blog!

      Thanks also for the heads up about the HTML: I have no idea what is going on but i’ll get my partner to take a look! 🙂

      Take care, xxx

      • Hi 🙂 I’d be happy to take a look at the HTML as well if you like. What I am seeing is that a few list items seem to have a bit of trouble. You can hit me up on Twitter using the handle @zersiax 🙂 I’d follow you, but I can’t seem to find your twitter handle anywhere 🙂

  12. Very interesting post and it’s not something I would have even thought about. But whenever I do see one, I am amazed at how they can navigate their world so easily. I would like to give them a smile, but they can’t see. But it also brings a little conundrum to me – if somehow he/she would accept any “help” (like crossing the road for instance or going up the stairs) or if that would be taken as an offence. Thanks for the enlightenment. Lovely to meet you. 🙂 #abitof everything

    • Hi Ann,

      What a lovely and thoughtful comment! 🙂 Don’t feel down that they can’t see you smile at them, in some circumstances a blind person can see you… It would depend on a lot of factors such as the distance they are from you, whether they have central peripheral vision etc.
      In answer to your conundrum I actually have 2 blog posts specifically relating to your questions.
      They are: The Do’s of interacting with blind people
      The don’ts of interacting with blind people.
      Please feel free to browse 🙂

      So lovely to meet you Ann, looking forward to getting to know you more through #Abitofeverything 🙂 xxx

  13. Hi ex-Sightling blogger,

    Why are you and so many commenters on here so obsessed with what total strangers think of you? I’m completely blind since birth and also Autistic. To me, some of what you said sounded like statements from sighted people who have no idea what it feels like to be in my skin. They seem to wish that I would pretend to be sighted. Basically, I should change almost everything about myself until I have all the trappings of sight but absolutely none of the benefits.

    I agree with much of what you said especially the part about being as independent as possible. However, I take issue with the part about rocking. You give a brief explanation of the purpose it serves and then say it should be extinguished anyway. You seem to think there are more acceptable behaviors which serve the same purpose but you don’t mention any of them. So, let me tell you why I rock back and forth.

    1) I’m not a plant or a statue. Sitting still all the time feels awful, makes it hard for me to think and is unhealthy, too. Rocking feels awesome.
    2) Sounds move, so I can localize them better. This is especially true at live music events.
    3) To express emotions. How would you feel if you were really, really happy, but instead of being happy with you, people yelled “STOP SMILING!” Would you ever share good news with them again?
    4) To think. It happens when I’m thinking very hard.
    5) Cost versus benefit! The cost to stop the behavior is too high and the reward is almost zero. I have a life and people who care about me, and my friends don’t focus on something so silly.

    When I feel safe I also engage in more intense stims like pacing in circles and jumping up and down. People who are freaked out by rocking need to grow up and realize that not everybody is the same or wishes to be. It’s much easier for them to adapt than for me to stop, and pretend to be like them.

    One more thing, people used to be much more freaked out by canes, which don’t look normal, either.

    • Hey Amanda,
      I really loved your take on my blog. I’ve never really heard any of my blind friends say it’s awesome to rock, It’s brilliant that you feel so good and content with who you are that you are happy and believe people should adapt to you.

      I think you made a valid point saying how I made a statement and did not back it up with examples, so thank you for bringing that to my attention!

      You are also very right, people used to be very weird around canes, and I suppose on a much finer scale, people probably still are… Especially in the case of people not interacting with blind people, and others / not sitting next to them on a bus etc.

      Thank you for putting your viewpoint forward, it was very interesting to read 🙂

      Much love, x

  14. This is sort of weird. I have never seen a person who is blind rock, flair, or spin their head to gain knowledge of the environment. I have never seen a person who is blind walk like a zombie either. I rub my eyes, but that’s because my eyes bother me. I don’t know what he means by not liking people poking her rubbing their eyes. I Rub my eyes when they feel dry, when I get something in them, or when they just feel uncomfortable. I have never heard of anyone though or someone that is blind poke their eyes though. The only thing that I do absolutely agree with and totally annoys me about people who are blind are the ones who refuse to do things for themselves. It’s the worst when they do it in front of people who are cited. It totally does give us a bad rep. I’m a person that likes doing things for myself as much as possible, and it really annoys me when people who are cited over help me. A lot of times these people have expressed that they think I can’t do it or need help because someone else who is blind needed it.

    • Hi Christy,
      Thank you for taking the time out to comment.
      Have you spent much time in the presence of other VIP/Blind people Christy? If you haven’t then that could be why. Of course another option is the fact that any blind people that you have met just don’t do it; whether that be through reinforcement from their family at a younger age or just because they do not exert blindisms.

      When I say rubbing or poking their eyes I mean: a person who either uses the palm of there hand to push or rub one or bot eyes. Another way is when a VIP ball their hands into fists and do the same thing. One other way I have noticed is where the VIP slightly curls their index finger and rubs or rests their finger on their eye when they are concentrating.
      It is a habitual thing, but it comes from a source of stimulating their eyes. I don’t know how much you can see, but for example if i rub my eyes too vigorously because they are itchy, or i’m really tired, I get little stars in my eyes and it sort of brightens up the whole eye.In some circumstances, some VIPs do this as a way of gaining stimulation.

      I hope that makes my points a little clearer?

      Yes you’re exactly right. I’m fiercely stubborn, and always have been, I don’t really like accepting help unless I have to. But it does truly send me bonkers when VIPs use this as an excuse not to do something, or to have someone else interject just because they are too lazy, or think it will take them too much time to achieve.

      Thanks for your input, I enjoyed reading it 🙂
      Take care, x

  15. Thank you so much for writing this post. Somebody needed to say it. To those who think this post is evidence of prejudice against blind people on the part of the author, I would say that, as shitty as it seems for someone to tell you that the mannerisms you engage in are harmful or wrong or have consequences, they do in fact have consequences, and not just for the people who perform them. They effect every one of us, because you may be the only blind person a person interacts with, and unfortunately, these mannerisms are very prevalent in the blind community. So much so that I’ve actually had people in professional settings comment that I don’t act blind because I don’t perform said mannerisms. Yeah, I know. It sucks. Somebody’s telling you you have to conform, and conformance is bad. But the fact is that we are a minority in society, and there are social consequences for actions that sighted people take as well. They might not be the same actions, but the thing about mannerisms is that they are very visible, they effect how your fellow blind people are treated, and trust me, mannerisms can have a very negative effect on your professional career.

  16. Kudos to the author of this blog post. I also see a lot of commenters saying “If they can’t accept that I rock, poke my eyes” and so on then to heck with them. The issue of blindisms is not just a matter of your family may accept it, but will your employer, potential or other wise accept it? Simply saying to the world, I am just going to do what I want whether it is socially acceptable or not is like saying, “I will fart in church no matter if people like it or not.”. Would you continue to smoke in a friend’s house even if they felt it wasn’t socially acceptable to do so in their house? Would you continue to chew with your mouth open if you know it would make you less socially desirable to go out to eat with friends? Blindisms are habbits, and they can be either changed to reflect what is socially acceptable, or let to run rampant, but if left to run rampant, it will create less social opportunities. That is just the way of the world.

    • Hi John,
      Thank you for taking the time out to post a comment. I completely agree with everything you have said above, I couldn’t have put it better myself!
      Much love, x

  17. So I’m going to assume that most of these blind people that you’ve met have not been mainstreamed or have been sheltered by their parents? Here’s an idea, shut down the schools for the blind and educate not only the parents but the public. Before you start judging, think about the root problem. These people have been told all their lives that they’re less. At such a young age, most of them get sent off to segregated schools where they can only interact with other blind people. What the hell do you expect? Treat someone like they’re socially less, and they’ll act like it. Want to talk about sighted people and their issues? What about racism, linchings, wars, sex trafficking, terrorism, the list goes on and on. Go educate your uncle tom ass.

    • Hello Mr Angry,
      Well thanks for your insightful comment.
      I think it’s pretty drastic of you to assume that these children were shipped off and deliberately segregated from society. Have you thought that maybe it was the parents who chose for their child to attend such schools to get the best possible education in a format and style that is easily communicated?
      I hadn’t suggested that we should, or that I think that blind people are less. We are equals and should be given equal opportunities in society, but that’s slightly different to where I was coming from in the respect I was explaining that the blindisms are habitual behaviours, this means that they are habits, habits can be broken if you try hard enough, it’s a case of retraining your brain.And my point from there was that if we discouraged habitual behaviours society would be more accepting and not see the blind community as someone we need to always look after.
      If you had read previous comments i’ve mentioned that I have blind friends who do not do the blindisms, but it’s from one of 3 reasons: their parents discouraged them in doing those blindisms I mentioned. They had some sight at an age where they can remember. Or they lost their sight as an adult.

      I think your comment went a bit crazy there at the end,but thanks for your response all the same.

  18. Hello there, thank you for sharing this article. I have been blind since I was born due to glaucoma and I have noticed all the things you mentioned. They are quite a shock every time I witness them, even though I’ve been around blind and visually impaired people on and off throughout my life. I’m just so grateful that my parents discouraged these behaviors since I was little. I vaguely remember rubbing my eyes and how my mom or dad would tell me to stop because it didn’t look right and eventually I did. You see, I was born and raised in El Salvador in a very small town. We had very little, the town was very poor and from what I remember, I was the only blind kid in that town going to school. Where I grew up, there are no expectations for people with disabilities. You would see blind people begging in the streets and I remember thinking as I was growing up but I never wanted to end up that way. Yes, I struggled and faced discrimination a lot, but I think that dealing with that helped me become the person I am today. I’m not saying that as blind people we don’t face discrimination nowadays, but from my experience, it isn’t nearly as much as what I had to deal with when I was growing up. Since a very young age, my parents always taught me that just because I was blind, it didn’t mean I couldn’t do anything. In fact, they have always believed in mY abilities. The cane was a must, if I refused to use it, I didn’t get to go. To many, it might sound like a harsh measurement to take with a young child, and at that time I thought it was too; however, I am thankful that they did. It taught me that the cane is like my eyes for a sighted person. I need it to get around safely.
    As for your point where you mentioned that a lot of blind people feel as if everyone needs to cater to them because they are blind, my parents taught me that if I want something, I have to go after it. The world doesn’t revolve around me. I was given duties and responsibilities Like any other child. If I disobeyed the rules, I had to face the consequences. There was no breaks or special treatment because I was blind. I think this is where the problem comes from. Parents think that because they have a child with a disability, they need to smother them and shelter them because they are already facing hardships as it is. They think that by having expectations for them, It would be overwhelming and it would only make their lives worse. Such behaviors and way of thinking only hinders the person in the long run. It makes me really sad to see so many blind people who are extremely smart feeling as if they are entitled to everything just because they are blind. They are content with getting a check from the government and that’s all there is to it. It is also very unfortunate to see that the agencies that are supposed to help blind and visually impaired people, don’t seem to have the appropriate tools or they just don’t care. I’ve heard horror stories about the schools for the blind and visually impaired in the United States. How kids poke their eyes, rock back and fourth or spinn in circles for hours and the teachers don’t do anything to stop it. How can we as blind people strive to get a job if we can’t even face the person we’re talking to, when we can’t even sit still, stop rocking or poking our eyes? How can a potential employer takes us seriously if we are displaying such behaviors?

    • Hi Nancy.
      What a beautifully written post. It was extremely insightful, and i’m really glad your parents instilled such favourable qualities within you. They sound like brilliant parents!

      Thank you for sharing your story with the blog.

      I would really like to contact you further, if you wouldn’t mind?
      i’m@sassypant6 on Twitter and

      It would be lovely to hear from you and talk more 🙂
      Much love, Sassy x

  19. I actually laughed out loud when reading this post and the commentor who said that it’s even worse when blind people do these things in front of sighted people. You know what I don’t get about blind people? the need to always kiss sighted ass. The sooner yall get sighted dicks out of your mouths, the sooner we can help our community. Sighted people rape, kill, linch, are racists, terrorists, ETC. They’re not perfect.

  20. Hi, this is a fascinating post and (almost) as fascinating to read all the comments . I am going to jump in and add a different view again to whats been mentioned so far. The comments have for the most part focussed on how these behaviours are viewed by sighted people. I am sighted, but have hearing loss. If someone is not facing me when they speak, or are moving around I cannot ‘see’ what they are saying.
    Thanks for linking up with us, Tracey xx #abitofeverything

    • Hey Tracey,
      Thanks for putting yet another spin on this conversation, it’s great to take onboard all perspectives, I am now really intrigued how you would manage to communicate with a few of the furious rockers i’ve met in my time.
      Thanking you for having me on #Abitofeverything 🙂 xxx

  21. Hello.

    I was asked on here why I put my hands in my eyes and honestly? I don’t know. I think it’s partly a form of comfort.

    I am hoping to stop these blindisms. It will take time but I’ll hopefully get there one day.

  22. Thanks for this enlightening post. I’ve been blind since birth, and had some of those habits too. I’d like to say something about making eye contact, or rather making ear contact. I used to be really bad about this, but throughout the years people have reminded me to face them when we’re speaking.

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