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Old 07-10-2018, 12:49 PM
 
304 posts, read 198,577 times
Reputation: 480

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I've just begun reading "Beyond Vision" by Allan Jones. He recounts his life with retinitis pigmentosa and how he eventually became completely blind. I love the term he uses: the "innocently prejudiced" for people who try to be sensitive but still have preconceived ideas about the visually impaired.

I have no problems with my vision, and unfortunately saw myself in one of his examples, but thankfully not in this one - where he walks into a public place with a friend, and the person they meet (hostess, hotel clerk, cashier...) says something like "Where does he want to sit" or "What kind of room does he want?".

I've been able to avoid this kind of situation, somehow, but sometimes I've said nothing to a visually impaired person rather than say what I wanted to say because I didn't know how to address him or her, essentially, how to get the person's attention. It's easy if the person is alone, but when with another, it's not always easy to directly address the visually impaired person without awkwardness all around.

If you are visually impaired, what is the best way for me to get your attention when we first meet and you are with someone else? For example, are you ok with a light touch on the arm to get your attention? (To me, that seems too familiar and invasive in most situations and not always feasible.)

What if we are in the middle of a casual conversation, all of us strangers sitting on a shuttle from the airport, so all facing one another across the small bus. I'd like to include you in the casual chit-chat...how do I now ask where you're from, where you're traveling? I can't very well say, "You there with the cane," or "and you, Sir, in the red shirt..." (How are you going to know it's YOU I'm talking to since you can't see if anyone else is wearing red? You can assume I'm talking to you, but this approach would still create uncertainty, hence awkwardness, it seems to me AND it feels rude anyway.) However, if you have a guide dog, that one is easy - "What a lovely dog!"

If you're visually impaired, what has been your best experience being included respectfully in conversations and/or addressed when entering public establishments or public areas with another person like restaurants, hotels, stores, conferences, classrooms, or anyplace where a sighted person must ask you a question or want to talk to you?

And aside from the obvious stupidities of people talking like you're not there (what does he want?), what has frustrated you?
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Old 07-10-2018, 01:41 PM
 
Location: Hawaii/Alabama
1,595 posts, read 2,970,204 times
Reputation: 3983
I am blind. I am quite partial to "excuse me ma'am", it works every time. Please, please, please do not just touch someone with a visual impairment. It is jarring and rude.

Isn't is a nice day; hot, cold, rainy, etc. You stand near the person, but not uncomfortably close (the same space that you would to any other total stranger).

So, whilst we appreciate someone speaking to us and not the person we are with, we also do not appreciate it when people shout at us, I always say "blind, not deaf".

Just keep in mind that we are like everyone else, some are friendly and like to speak with strangers, and some do not like speaking with strangers.

Thank you for asking. I mean that sincerely.
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Old 07-10-2018, 11:04 PM
 
304 posts, read 198,577 times
Reputation: 480
Quote:
Originally Posted by melaniej65 View Post
I am blind. I am quite partial to "excuse me ma'am", it works every time. Please, please, please do not just touch someone with a visual impairment. It is jarring and rude.

Isn't is a nice day; hot, cold, rainy, etc. You stand near the person, but not uncomfortably close (the same space that you would to any other total stranger).

So, whilst we appreciate someone speaking to us and not the person we are with, we also do not appreciate it when people shout at us, I always say "blind, not deaf".

Just keep in mind that we are like everyone else, some are friendly and like to speak with strangers, and some do not like speaking with strangers.

Thank you for asking. I mean that sincerely.
And thank you as well for answering! I'll remember "Excuse me, Ma'am." That suits my style and makes sense, especially when you're with another person. Of course, if I were speaking to two sighted people, saying that would usually be unnecessary and somewhat odd, but if one person is blind, then it's obvious I'm trying to get that person's attention. Excellent!

I thought touching the person would be bad - for the obvious reason it would be too familiar, but I thought even worse would be the sudden touch out of nowhere. You would be given no warning someone is in your space and so close. I'm glad you confirmed my suspicions.

I'm nodding my head at the "I'm blind, not deaf" comment. It reminds me of a co-worker who has had hearing problems since his late 30s. He can hear sounds rather well, but he can't distinguish discreet sounds, so he will often tell people he's hearing impaired and could they please speak slowly and distinctly. So they then continue to jumble their words, speaking quickly, just LOUDER. He gets SO frustrated.

And yes, when I concocted the shuttle bus from the airport scenario above, I imagined how it would be obvious if the blind person were not interested in joining in the conversation. I think body language is likely to be obvious - head down, face turned to the window and away from the people talking. Just like with a sighted person, I'd respect their body language. I'm not one to talk to everyone I meet, but I have found on those shuttle buses to and from the airport, lots of people like to engage.


Thanks again for your reply. I have often been caught out unsure what to do, but it's really rather simple, isn't it? "Excuse me, Ma'am..."
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