Blindness Awareness Courtesies

Here are some general guidelines to follow, and some things to keep in mind, when interacting with a person who is visually impaired. If you need more clarification, or are in doubt–ask.

  1. Don’t assume a person who is blind needs assistance. Ask him/her first, and don’t be offended if he/she refuses your offer.

  2. Don’t grab a blind person’s arm. Let him/her take your arm instead.

  3. When leaving a person who is blind tell him/her. It is best to find him/her a seat, or allow him/her to stand next to a wall. If there are no solid landmarks nearby, and folks are simply milling around in clusters, just point that out.

  4. When giving navigational directions, be specific. Use terms that are meaningful such as “to your left”, and “behind you”. Avoid phrases such as “over there”, “right here”, and “that way”.

  5. When speaking to a person who is blind identify yourself.

  6. It is not necessary to shout when speaking with a blind person.

  7. When talking with a person who is blind, don’t avoid words such as “look” or “see”. Blind people use them too.

  8. When talking to a person who is blind avoid pointing, nodding or other nonverbal communication and substitute verbal cues such as “yes”, and “I agree” instead.

  9. Use common sense. A person who is blind should be treated with respect–not sympathy.

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