Being visually impaired hasn’t only been an adjustment for me; it’s proven to be quite the challenge for some of you “full-sighted” people as well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware that your intentions are good, and please know that they are very much appreciated. HOWEVER, it’s important for you to understand the importance of a visually impaired or blind person’s independence. The following things are just a few descriptions of my personal experiences with the fully sighted community. This is in no way created to offend or blast anyone. Consider it an educational opportunity…combined with a little bit of humor. Now, on to the list:
1. “It’s right over there/I’m right here!”
Really?!! If I could see it or YOU, don’t you think I’d grab whatever you were pointing to? Or that I’d just come over towards where you were standing? For me personally, I understood (in the beginning) that it may have taken some time for you to adjust to me being legally blind because I haven’t always been this way; but dude, it’s been almost seven years. G et it together, PLEASE!
2. Don’t assume I can’t SPEAK because I can’t SEE!
- Okay… This one REALLY burns my britches!! Here’s the scenario: My friend and I went out to a local restaurant for lunch. Th waitress greets us at the table with menus and a couple of waters, and I requested the menu for visually impaired people (the words a lot bigger in them for those of you wearing glasses and have a rough time seeing in those dark restaurants). I digress. So, I explain to the waitress that I was legally blind and immediately she starts asking my friend what I wanted to eat. “Does she want soup or salad?” she politely asked my friend. Uhmm… Hello? Am I invisible now? Lady, I can order my own food. She apologized NOT for ignoring me but because I couldn’t see! “Wait a minute, Maam!” I was truly puzzled. She just continued to talk her way out of a tip. “It’s such a shame you can’t see, I feel so so sorry for you!” She said sympathetically. “Awwwww lady, I’m so sorry for you too,” I thought… After you see what this tip looks like. Which leads me to my next point…
3. (Whinning) Don’t feel sorry for Meeee!
- Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t lose my “CAN DO” attitude when I lost my vision. If anything, it allowed me to challenge myself to do MORE than I could have WITH full vision. Feeling sorry for me is insulting because it’s like saying, I no longer have quality of life without total use of my vision. And that’s definitely NOT the case. I just do things a little differently than you.
4 Don’t test me!
How many fingers are you holding up? Are you kidding? What is this, a pop quiz? I AM smarter than a 5th grader, humph! Here’s a question for you… Do you really think I would walk around pretending as if I couldn’t see? I mean, of all the things I could dream to be… Yeah, being legally blind is definitely in my top 5! NOT!! Enough with the flailing hands in front of my face!
5. Don’t assume I always need help.
I touched on this before in the beginning; while your assistance is most appreciated , it’s important to understand the importance of a disabled person’s independence. If I express to you that I don’t need help, don’t insist, just stick around and wait until your help is requested .
6. Just because I can’t see, doesn’t mean I’m incoherent when you speak.
Why are you dragging your words? I can understand you perfectly fine. I don’t understand the logic behind this one. It’s not as if ta gobble words are spewing from your mouth and I’m struggling to see them as they hit the air. My ears function VERY well!; probably better since one of my senses is weaker than the rest. It’s ok to speak in your “regular” voice. Lol
7. Don’t walk away or approach me without announcing who you are.
One thing I hate the most is when someone walks up to me and starts a conversation with me and I’m trying to guess who they are by the sound of their voice. Even worse, is when I’m standing amongst a crowd, engaging in a conversation with one person and they walk away without properly ending the conversation. Now, I’m standing in a circle looking crazy as if I’m having a full blown conversation with mysel (lol). It would be most appropriate and acrept able, if you eneed the conversation to let me know we are done. Saying something like,”it was good speaking to you,” or “Hey, I’ve gotta run,” makes it much easier and more polite
These were only a few that personally resonated with me. I’m sure there are many others. Again, please do not be offended; as it was all in good humor. All jokes aside, it is my hope that you learned a few things about how to respond to someone who is blind or visually impaired. Remember, it’s not that we can’t do anything, we merely do things DIFFERENTLY! Until next time…Live B.L.I.N.D.