• 8 ways you can help a blind/VI person
  • 8 ways you can help a blind/VI person

    As I’ve grown up with sight loss, many people have asked me in what ways they can help me, what’s the best way of supporting me and what’s the best way of approaching me in certain situations.

    The truth is, I don’t always need help and I’ve heard many other visually impaired people say the same. But, there are some things that people could do more of in order to help me in some way. As always, I’m not speaking on behalf of every blind/VI person out there in this post, these are purely things that would help me personally. I’m sure they can be applied to others as well but not everyone has the same needs.

    There are many ways in which you can help someone who is blind or visually impaired – here are just a few.

    A photo of a macbook, white cane, iphone and ipad

    Ask if a person needs help

    Not everyone needs or wants help and that’s absolutely fine. Something that happens often to visually impaired people is someone grabbing us without a warning or without asking us if we need assistance or not. This isn’t the way of going about helping a visually impaired person and it’s more frightening than it is helpful so  the first step to helping a blind/VI person is asking us if we need help in the first place.

    Introduce yourself when you start a conversation

    Every visually impaired person have varying levels of vision, some people might be able to make out some of your features when you walk up to them but others, like me, aren’t able to, so it’s always helpful when someone lets me know who they are. I can recognise voices quite well and I can normally tell who’s talking to me if I know them but if we’re in a crowded space or if we’ve not spoken much before, it’s not easy for me to recognise who you are. So, it makes it less awkward for me if you introduce yourself when initiating a conversation..

    Say when you’re leaving the room

    A #BlindGirlProblem I often experience is being left to talk to myself because I don’t know that the person I’m talking to has left the room. I have quite good hearing but I can’t always hear someone walking away and it’s not something that’s easy to sense. It might not always seem intuitive but letting a VI person know that you’re leaving the room saves them from any embarrassment when talking to thin air.

    Add image descriptions on social media

    This is a slightly more random point to throw into the mix but it’s something that many sight loss charities and visually impaired people alike are trying to raise more awareness of this year. As someone who lives with sight loss, I can’t see things such as photos so when they’re added into blog posts or included in a tweet, I have no idea what they are. For many people, visual content is just as important as something written so it’s helpful to gain an idea of what the photos people are putting up online consist of.

    A photo of macbook keyboard, iphone, pink blush and Elin's interview page in Blogosphere magazine

    If you’re a blogger, you can add photo descriptions to your pictures by writing them in the ‘Alt Tags’ section when you’re editing your image (people normally use this for SEO purposes without knowing that it can benefit blind/VI people). Once you’ve added the description, it will be read to a visually impaired reader via the screen reader they use on their phone or computer.

    If you’re a Twitter user, you can enable the option to add image descriptions in your settings – accessibility – then click the box next to ‘compose image descriptions’ – an option will then appear when you add a photo to a tweet which will prompt you to add a description to it. This allows visually impaired people like me to gain an idea of what photos people are posting so that we can appreciate them like sighted people.

    Don’t assume

    A big helping factor for me is when people don’t assume things about me or my vision impairment. I know assumptions sometimes come naturally due to the misconceptions and stigmas that are out there but they can prove to be frustrating at times. When someone comes up to me and treats me like they’d treat anyone else, it makes the situation so much better than it would if that person were to assume something like I can’t speak for myself or that I can’t be independent because I’m visually impaired. Neither of the above are the case in any way and when people realise this, it makes things so much easier. Of course, people are entitled to ask any questions, within reason of course, as there is a lot of curiosity surrounding sight loss. I’m always happy to answer people’s questions but I prefer to do so when they don’t make assumptions about me before asking them.

    A photo of black framed glasses, one of my previous blog posts on an ipad and a phrase on my phone which says you don't look blind

    Don’t stress about using words such as ‘look’ and ‘see’.

    I’ve never heard a blind or visually impaired person say that they’re offended by the words above. They’re words we all use in our day-to-day lives so don’t stress about the fact that you think we might find it offensive because I can assure you that we don’t. You don’t need to change the language you use to speak to a visually impaired person, we all use the same words so no need to worry.

    Give detailed descriptions

    If you’re guiding a visually impaired person, let them know of any upcoming steps and if they go up or down. If someone asks you to tell them where their drink is, say to the left or wherever it might be, avoid saying things like ‘it’s just here’ or ‘it’s over there’.

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    8 ways you can help a blind/VI person: A photo of Elin using her cane

    Just be normal

    In my experience, the best form of help is when people treat me normally. There is so much awkwardness that surrounds disability and it can be disheartening at times when people don’t consider me to be normal or treat me differently to how they’d treat someone else. I’m lucky in the sense that I have very supportive family and friends who don’t regard me as being any different because of my vision impairment and I’ve met so many other people who haven’t treated me any differently because of it. I just hope that, in time, others will be able to adopt the idea that vision impairment isn’t something that needs to be treated abnormally or awkwardly.

    Those are just a few ways in which you can help a blind or visually impaired person. As I said, these points are taken from my own perspective and, although they might correlate with some,  they won’t apply to every visually impaired person out there.

    Are you also visually impaired? If so, what advice would you give to people with regard to helping you? I’d love to hear what you have to say.

    Elin x

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    12 Comments

    1. August 27, 2018 / 7:52 pm

      I like this post very much Elin. I had no idea I could make my post easier for a VI person to connect with my post. I would always feel awkward for using the words see and look, to a VI person. So thank you for making me feel at ease with that one lol. And I can’t imagine walking away from a conversation without telling the other person, why I was going, some people eh. Great post Elin : ) xo

      http://www.juanitalikes.com

      • myblurredworld@gmail.com
        Author
        September 1, 2018 / 11:16 am

        Thank you lovely, I’m really glad you found the post useful in some way. Thank you for reading as always xx

      • myblurredworld@gmail.com
        Author
        September 1, 2018 / 11:16 am

        Thank you for reading!

      • myblurredworld@gmail.com
        Author
        September 1, 2018 / 11:17 am

        Thank you so much!

    2. August 28, 2018 / 10:45 am

      Great post lovely, some brilliant tips that I’m sure will help others xxx

      • myblurredworld@gmail.com
        Author
        September 1, 2018 / 11:17 am

        Thank you lovely, I hope so!xxx

    3. September 1, 2018 / 11:15 pm

      Wow, some of the tips that you’ve mentioned above are so simple but sound so effective. I will make sure to consider all of these things – especially the blog tips! – so that I can help make a difference. Thanks for sharing!

      Aisling x
      http://www.aislingjacyna.com

      • myblurredworld@gmail.com
        Author
        September 2, 2018 / 12:36 pm

        Sometime the most simple of the things can be the most effective! Thank you so much and thank you for reading!

    4. September 9, 2018 / 4:05 pm

      Very helpful post! I have to agree most of all with being normal around other impaired people, including all disabilities. There’s nothing worse than acting awkward around someone because you dont know how to act, when in reality there’s no right way to act. Just act like you would around anyone else, because other people can pick up on that stuff immediately, and feel as if they indeed different, in a bad way. Not good at all. Thanks for sharing!

      • myblurredworld@gmail.com
        Author
        September 10, 2018 / 5:40 pm

        I’m really glad you found it helpful. Couldn’t agree more! Thank you for reading as always 🙂

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