How to be friends with and help the blind….

Love is blind; friendship closes its eyes. –Friedrich Nietzschce

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Some of us know blind people and want to be as supportive as possible, but aren’t quite sure how to behave in a way that’s helpful. People with visual impairment say that some are too helpful and others aren’t helpful enough.

Greet out loud:

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Dear, they can’t see you. So as soon you walk into a room and you can see the person is blind and maybe waiting, saying something right away will alert them to your presence. Say your name with a smile (they can’t see the smile but they’ll hear it in your voice).

If the person offers a hand to shake, please go ahead and take it softly. Being quiet and staring at the person will cause discomfort and fear.

Communicate clearly with them:

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Since they have the inability to interpret body language, it is very important to communicate clearly with your words when speaking to people who are blind. In regular conversations, the unsaid is often conveyed through the movement of our hands and the expressions on our faces. Thus, it is crucial to compensate for this by using clear words and effective intonation.

Do speak directly to them:

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When you want to communicate with the blind, speak to them, not the person they are with. There is nothing that frustrates blind people more than people thinking they are non-verbal or incapable of having a conversation. Non-sighted people do not enjoy being treated as if they are incompetent, so speak directly to them, rather than their companion.

Ask if a person needs help before offering:

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So many people have gone wrong here. Not everyone who is blind needs help at a particular point in time and this is completely fine. Don’t get offended if your offer of help is turned down. They want to do things on their own like everyone else. It is important to note this because people have a tendency to just grab them where they think they should be going, this is not helpful at all and can be rather frightening. Similarly, people sometimes take over the task that they are doing, preventing them from doing it themselves, this really isn’t helpful.

Don’t assume, Ask:

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Assumptions can often come naturally because of misconceptions and stigmas that many non-disabled people have, but they can be very frustrating for blind and visually impaired people. If you’re unsure of something, then ask. Most blind and visually impaired people are happy to answer any questions that you might have, within reason of course. You don’t learn if you don’t ask right?

Give detailed descriptions:

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It’s rather annoying when someone says that something is ‘over there’, but where is over there to a blind person? Is it to the left, to the right, straight in front …where is it? Describe things in detail such as ‘it’s to your left’ or ‘in front of you’.

Include them:

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The most important thing you can do for a blind person, or any person really, is to be friendly, include them socially and engage in conversation with them. There’s nothing worse than leaving someone out of a conversation just because they cannot see nonverbal cues.

There you go, just a few ways you be an eye to a visually impaired person.

Do you have any other tips to add? Feel free to leave them in the comments section.

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