I’m sure many of you are already aware of the common courtesies I’ve compiled here but it doesn’t hurt for us to refresh our memories from time to time. If you’re someone who hasn’t spent much time with people who are blind; please take mental notes of these courtesies so the next time you interact with someone who is blind, you’ll be able to show them the respect they deserve.
1) If you see a blind person who seems to need help, offer your services. Speak directly to them, not through a third party. Identify yourself and let him or her know you’re talking to them. If your help is refused, don’t be offended.
2) If you do assist a individual who is blind, offer them your arm. Do not guide them by pushing him or her in front of you. Taking your arm will allow them to follow the motions of your body.
3) When you’re leaving a person who is blind, say so. Don’t leave them stranded.
4) Always give directions to a blind person according to the way they are facing and/or preface directions (i.e., “turn to your right”). Don’t point, and if you must use specific names (streets, buildings, etc.), check to be sure they are familiar with the area first.
5) Go ahead and use words like “look” and “see” when conversing with a person who is blind. Words like these are as much a part of their vocabulary as yours because there just aren’t any reasonable substitutes.
6) As tempting as it may be to pet a dog guide, remember that this dog is responsible for leading a master who cannot see. The dog should never be distracted from that duty.
7) When serving or eating with a person who is blind, tell him or her what is being served. Explain the position of each portion by relating its position on the plate to the numbers on the face of a clock.
8) When you’re in a blind person’s home or office, leave things where you find them. If you move anything, they may very well have to search for the items you moved.
9) Most people who are blind will gladly discuss blindness if you wish, but remember that it’s an old story to them. They have just as many interests as you have. Don’t make the false assumption that their blindness rules their life.
10) Finally, when meeting a person who is blind, remember that common sense and sensitivity to the individual are most important of all.
There are many more courtesies we should afford to people who are blind but I wanted to stop with ten and give you; the readers, the opportunity to contribute. What are some common courtesies you think we should exhibit when spending time with individuals who are blind?