Sunday, October 01, 2017

Interacting With #Blind People, And Busting #Blindness Myths

While the topic of blindness is being raised, due to the current promotional posts for my "Toby's Tales" series, I thought I'd bring the conversation around to the subject of interaction between a blind person and a sighted person.

For the most part, interaction with a blind person - or someone with any other type of disability - should be exactly the same as with interacting with your average non-disabled person. Yet many people behave differently towards someone with a disability.

For example, when dealing with a blind person, many feel they need to avoid using words like "see" and "watch" in conversation. This is not the case. Most visually impaired people wouldn't be offended if you said something like, "You should have seen that dog just now; it was adorable!" In fact, it bothers most visually impaired people more if you avoid using these words. Just as nobody thinks anything is wrong with you saying you're talking to friends online when you're actually typing to them, nobody should think there's anything wrong with talking about watching something when you can't see to watch it. Sure, the only way I can see that adorable dog is in my mind after you've described it to me, and I have to read a book by using my ears rather than my eyes. But you should still use the same words you would use for a sighted person when talking to me.

Of course, there are a few situations where interaction with a blind person does need to be slightly different. For example, you need to make sure you say something to let a blind person know you're in a room, or let them know you're leaving it; it's extremely frustrating for a blind person to be talking to someone, only to find they've left the room without saying anything. Also, try not to get in the way of a blind person's cane, and ask before petting a dog with a blind person, especially if that dog is obviously wearing a guide dog harness. But other than things like that, interaction with a blind person shouldn't be any different from interaction with a sighted person.

If in doubt... Ask!

Oh, and here's the truth about the two most common myths about blind people:

Myth 1: Blind people's other senses are improved to compensate for their lack of sight.

Truth: No, they aren't. We just learn to rely on them in place of sight, so are more likely to take note of what they're telling us.

Myth 2: Blind people all read braille and use guide dogs.

Truth: Not all blind people can read braille. I can, but many blind people never learn how to read braille. As for the guide dogs, not everyone has one, and not everyone wants one. My brother - who has been blind since the age of two - doesn't have one, and neither do I.

If you want to learn more about what things are really like for a blind person, check out my five book "Toby's Tales" series.

Written by Victoria Zigler – and now with an audio version read by Joseph A. Batzel – the "Toby's Tales" series is a five book series designed to show children - and adults too - the struggles and challenges faced by people who are blind, or who are adjusting to sight loss, while also being useful tools to show anyone who finds themselves in Toby's situation that they aren't alone in facing those struggles and challenges.

Buy "Toby's New World" as an audiobook, eBook, or paperback - in some cases two or more of these formats - from Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository. The book also has a page on Goodreads.

Buy "Toby's Monsters" as an audiobook, eBook, or paperback - in some cases two or more of these formats - from Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository. The book also has a page on Goodreads.

Buy "Toby's Outing" as an audiobook, eBook, or paperback - in some cases two or more of these formats - from Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository. The book also has a page on Goodreads.

Buy "Toby's Games" as an audiobook, eBook, or paperback - in some cases two or more of these formats - from Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository. The book also has a page on Goodreads.

Buy "Toby's Special School" as an audiobook, eBook, or paperback - in some cases two or more of these formats - from Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository. The book also has a page on Goodreads.

8 comments:

Jeanie said...

This is a terrific post, Tori, and it reminds me of two things. First is our friends Nino and Marie. Both are blind. Both ride bikes (tandem, with a sighted captain) and do long 100-mile/day rides and are better riders, Rick says, than many with sight because they feel the gears better. They have a huge garden, constantly are putting up their harvest (Marie said she does avoid canning because of the boiling water and sterilizing jars, so mostly frozen or baked) and are, as you indicated, "just like everyone else," (except they can't see. About the only thing different we do when they come to visit is make sure that things that might not be obstacles to us in the path are either moved or pointed out at the beginning.

It also reminds me of my friend Sharon's TED talk on her stammer. She was a top reporter, then a PR executive with quite a King's Speech stammer. And she gave this magnificent speech on talking with someone who stammers. It was funny, honest, helpful and spot-on, much as you have done in print with this. Sometimes I just watch her link again, just because!

Lovely piece.

Victoria Zigler said...

Jeanie:
I'm glad you liked the post. Thanks for adding the comments about your friends. Those are perfect examples of what I was talking about.

Rita said...

Wonderful post! When I was a Human Services Tech and later a Day Care Teacher I had a few blind kids I worked with. Nice to remind people. Even at the Day Care Center I couldn't believe they lumped the blind child in with the severely mentally handicapped and behavior problem kids! That was the group I got because I had some experience with all three--and all three are very different types of kids to be teaching! How scary for the others--especially the blind girl--to be with violent kids with behavior issues!! People just don't get it sometimes. Great post, Tori! :)

Victoria Zigler said...

Rita:
Thanks, and thanks for adding your experiences to the comments too. As you said, people just don't get it, so need to be reminded.

Danielle L Zecher said...

Thank you for this post; it's good information for all of us. I didn't even realize you were blind when I met first "met" you blogging. It wasn't until you mentioned something about it in a post, I think after we'd been commenting on each other's blogs for a few weeks. Thank you for the reminder for everyone to just behave normally.

Victoria Zigler said...

Danielle:
You're welcome.

Intense Guy said...

Excellent post! I'm thrilled to see the Toby books being promoted - I hope they sell well and help folks understand the blind!

Victoria Zigler said...

Thanks, Iggy!