Do you know someone who is blind or has low vision? People who are sighted often wonder how to be of assistance to the blind without coming across as patronizing or rude. The American Foundation for the Blind has an informative website where everyone can learn about blindness, help with fundraising for related causes, or even volunteer time to a charity that works with the blind.
Experts with another organization, Vision Australia, have posted some helpful tips on their website that explain the best way to assist a blind person you may meet on the street or at your job. Here’s a quick summary of the tips. Be sure to check out their website for more information.
- If you think a blind person needs a hand, always introduce yourself and say hello first, then ask, “Would you like some help?” Don’t assume that the person needs or wants assistance.
- Listen to how the person responds to your inquiry and don’t feel bad if they reject your offer.
- If a blind or low-vision person is in a room that you enter, let them know you are there, address them by their name (if you know it), and tell them when you are leaving the room.
- When walking with a blind person, a dangerous situation may arise. Never say, “Look out,” but rather, “Stop.” Clarity is the key here, and the phrase, “Look out,” is potentially ambiguous to someone who can’t see well.
- If you fill a drinking glass for a blind person, never fill it to the brim.
- When accompanying a blind or low-vision person to a social event, make sure you describe what is going on around you.
- When helping a blind person into a chair, put their hands onto the back of it. From that point, they will be able to seat themselves.
The above list is just a sample of the many tips, suggestions and ideas you’ll learn at the Vision Australia and American Federation of the Blind websites. Spend some time learning how to help your blind, or low-vision neighbors and friends.
Blindness is a unique disability, and requires all of us to play a role in assisting our fellow citizens who have limited eyesight.
Be good to each other,
Julian Omidi is the co-founder of Civic Duty, an organization that examines ways all citizens can help their communities, as well as other charitable organizations.