The title alone is important. I want to be called blind, not visually impaired. My vision isn’t impaired, it’s nonexistent. Ditto for Carin, other than some colours and the occasional amusing blob story.
There are ten things on the list, but here are a couple of the most important ones.
7. Low expectations. This includes: the “pity” person (Oh, you poor blind child. You must have a terrible life.), the “know-it-all” (Dr. so-and-so can work miracles. I know because my grandmother/nephew/dog has 20-20 now.), “Mr. Helper” (Let me do that, I know it’s too hard for you.), the “excuse-maker” (I don’t want him/her to learn how to make a [insert food here] because they might cut/burn/make a mess. You can’t go on that field trip because there might be a terrorist attack and I would worry.), the “denial/embarrassed person” (Don’t use your cane at the store so people won’t know you’re blind.), and unfortunately, the list goes on and on. Low expectation is probably the worst thing one person can do to another, regardless of abilities. If you aim for low performance, that’s likely what you’ll get. Don’t be an enabler. Being too over-protective will dramatically hinder the VI’s progress toward independence and living a happy, social, productive life. Step back. Allow them to fail, get a minor injury, and make their own mistakes. That’s how we all learn. Don’t forbid them these opportunities.
I know quite a few parents of blind children that I wish had been given that advice, and others that were given it but didn’t listen. Sorry, but the fact that your blind child isn’t as independent as most of his friends isn’t all his fault. Much of the blame falls squarely on you. There’s something to be said for succeeding in spite of your surroundings, but they didn’t come up with the saying about apples not falling far from trees for no reason.
9. Rudeness. It’s usually just ignorance, but don’t assume that any VI person automatically needs help. Grabbing the person’s arm and pulling them along is wrong on several levels. We know you’re probably just trying to be nice, but don’t. First, always ask the person if they would like some assistance. Then, use the sighted guide technique correctly. Offer your arm and let them hold it, usually right above the elbow. Also, if there are several people with the VI person, speak directly to him/her, not through an “interpreter”, as if the VI person is not there. Say his name, so he knows you are talking to him.
And to add to this, don’t tell me that my helper and/or worker can do it for me, especially if I’m alone. It’s bad enough when people assume that the friend or helpful stranger I’m with is somehow in the employ of the agency that has me in captivity for my own good, but it’s even worse when you can clearly see that I’m able enough to have gotten to this point unassisted.