I know I’ve said this stuff before, but somebody sent me a funny version of it, with some new and interesting twists on it, so I figured it should go up. I figure you can never repeat this stuff enough.
Ten tips for interacting with people who are blind
By: Shelley Johns
Shreveport Times, Louisiana, April 19, 2007
Shelley Johns lives in Bossier City.
My father is blind, as are both of my uncles, so growing up with blind people has given me some insight (no pun intended) into how not to treat blind people.
First, when out in public, if you happen to see a blind person, do not stare! Although, the blind person cannot see you, the family members of the blind person can and speaking from personal experience, it can send a sighted family member into a rage where you will be verbally abused and/or made an example of.
Second, when a blind person is ready to order at a restaurant, please do not assume that they are not of mental capacity to place the order for themselves. Nothing makes a blind person angrier than when a waiter or waitress asks the person sitting with the blind person what the blind person wants to eat.
Third, speaking loudly to the blind person is not going to make him or her see you. This may be shocking, but sight is not triggered by loud noise and yelling at a blind person will only result in a bloody nose, and/or cane whop, because no one likes to be yelled at.
Fourth, offering help to a blind person is OK but only if the blind person asks for it. There are some exceptions to the rule. For example, if you see a blind person about to run directly into a wall, then stopping them is acceptable. However, a blind person doesn’t normally run into walls because they are normally armed with a cane, escort or seeing-eye dog.
Fifth, moving furniture in the path of a blind person is completely unacceptable – well, unless you are the blind person’s spouse, son or daughter and they have just made you mad. It is not recommended though because the blind person has acute hearing and anything you are doing sneaky can be heard from a blind person several rooms away.
Sixth, do not treat blind people like they are stupid. Asking stupid questions or dumbing-down a conversation is completely ridiculous. In most cases, the blind person is highly educated and conversation with a blind person can be a learning experience.
Seventh, do not offer to “carry” a blind person somewhere unless you have a really strong back and fully intend to lug the blind person on your back. Leading them somewhere is OK; however, carrying them is not suggested.
Eighth, when helping a blind person descend a flight of stairs, do not grab underneath their arm, lifting half their body, forcing them to hop down the stairs on one leg. This is hazardous to the blind person, as well as yourself.
Ninth, give them the respect that you would give anyone else and don’t treat them differently. While stupidity may be contagious, blindness is not.
Tenth, and finally, if you are going to ask a blind person about their blindness, for goodness sake, just ask. In most cases, they do not mind answering your questions, however, wording it in a way that is insulting to their intelligence is not recommended.
In conclusion, I believe that I have covered the most important bases on how not to treat a blind person so please use this guide wisely.
Some of those surprised me. I’ve never been made to hop down stairs, and no one has offered to carry me somewhere and I’m not even five feet tall!! I can’t imagine having someone offering to carry me, and being a fully-grown man.
And in the leading a blind person part, I would have added, do not try to lead them by the end of their cane, by their dog’s leash, and if you can avoid it, don’t herd them like a cow. Let them grab your elbo if possible. If their hands are full of stuff, or there is some other reason why this is not possible, then other ways of leading are cool.
Hope you enjoyed that. It made me chuckle, so I thought it might be fun to post. Plus, I hadn’t posted since Friday! What’s that? Something not cool, that’s what it is.