Greetings from ASB. I hope you and yours are having a joyous holiday season. Please take a few moments to check out the ASB Bulletin, our quarterly E-Newsletter aimed at educating the public about blindness and visual impairment.
Pat Johnson President and CEO Associated Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired
What You Need To Know About Vision Loss
If you meet someone who is blind or visually impaired and you’re not sure what to do or say, this article is intended as a guide for anyone who wants to help, but does not know where to begin. If you remember that most blind people are different only in regard to their vision, you’ll be off to a good start. Blindness does not affect hearing or intelligence. It does not change character or personality. It affects vision in people we know as friends, neighbors, and family.
So what do you do when you meet a blind person? Here are some hints we think will help:
Be yourself, relax, and speak directly to a blind person in a normal tone of voice. Don’t be afraid to approach them, and if you can’t decide if they need help, simply ask… it’s the natural thing to do.
Until a blind person knows your voice, identify yourself when you meet, along with anyone else who enters the conversation. When you leave, say so. Everything in between is just normal talk. Feel free to use words like “look” and “see,” but avoid pointing and other visual language
Do not pet or talk to guide dogs while they are working (in harness). It can be distracting. Also, don’t pull on a blind person’s travel cane. If she requests travel assistance, let her take your arm, just above the elbow, and follow your body movements. If you come to a door, mention how it opens (in or out, left or right). Indicate the direction of stairs (up or down), and if they are wide or narrow. As you can see, a lot of this is well-applied common sense.
Feel free to talk about visual entertainment, such as sports, television, and movies. Blind people have the same interests as sighted people. If you include them, everyone will have a better time.
Don’t move personal items or rearrange furniture.
As you can see, it’s easy. When you meet someone who is blind or visually impaired, be yourself, use common sense, and just let the rest happen.
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