There are many misconceptions about blindness and these reflect every aspect of our social behaviour.
’Are you blind, deaf and dumb?’
You don’t need to raise your voice for me to hear you or address me as if I am mentally challenged.
’Does Pat take milk in tea?’
Don’t ask other people what I would like – ask me and let me decide for myself. Address a blind person directly – not through a third person. A blind person is just as capable of making decisions as you are.
Hi Pat. It’s good to see you, Oops I didn’t mean that!
My memory is good but, it is hard to distinguish everyone’s voices. I use words like see and look too.Introduce yourself when you begin speaking with a blind person and let them know who else is present. You do not need to avoid using words like ‘see’ and ‘look’ – blind people use them too.
‘Do not assume that a blind person is either especially gifted or mentally handicapped, most people are of normal ability.’
How do I approach a blind person?
Start by introducing yourself and ask if the person would like some help. If the person would like to walk with you touch the back of your hand against the back of theirs to signal for them to take your arm. They will hold your arm above the elbow walking about half a pace behind you.
Don’t push them or be forceful and give clear directions for turning left or right. Let them know if you are approaching an obstacle such as stairs or doors.
When showing a blind person to a chair, put their hands on the back and they will seat themselves.
If you are dining together read the menu and prices to them and if they want help cut their food and pour their drink. Tell them the position of the food on the plate according to a clock face.
Don’t fail to shake hands when meeting or leaving a blind friend. A handshake substitutes for a friendly smile.