Five Things Not To Do When You Interact With A Visually Impaired Person

I’ve had quite a few awkward experiences when people have tried to interact with me, especially with me being visually impaired, so I thought that I would tell you five things not to do when you interact with a visually impaired person..

me holding a white cane.

A picture of me holding my white cane.

1. Don’t just walk up and start talking to them.

It might seem like a good idea to walk up to a visually impaired person and just start talking to them, especially if it looks like we’re struggling, but this can be incredibly dangerous because most of the time we aren’t confused or struggling at all, we’re actually trying to concentrate, and if we lose our concentration, especially if we’re trying to cross a road for example, we could end up being seriously hurt. If you think that we might be struggling and you really want to help us, the best thing to do is to come up to one of our sides, introduce yourself, and ask us if we are ok.

2. Don’t talk to them through other people.

This has to be one of the most irritating things that people do. Imagine the scene if you can, i’m in Leeds having a nice shopping day with Jamie. I’ve had a wander around a shop and have decided to purchase a couple of things, so off we go to the checkout. We finally get to the front and a staff member says hi, so we both say hi back, and they start to scan my shopping, but then rather than talking to me, they decide to talk to Jamie, and reference me as if i’m not there. How is he? etc. Umm HELLO! I can hear you you know, there might be something wrong with my eyes, but my ears work just fine thank you.

3. Don’t avoid words about sight, like see, watch, saw, and so on.

We know that we can’t see, but words like see, watch, and saw, aren’t dirty words, and they won’t offend us if you use them. The amount of times i’ve heard someone ask me, “hey, did you watch that really good documentary last night?”, and then have to listen to them profusely apologise, because apparently visually impaired people can’t watch TV. For the record, we can in fact watch TV, and can do many other things that a fully sighted person can do,, we just have a different way of doing them.

4. Don’t walk or stand in front of them when they’re using a white cane.

This is pretty self explanatory. If you walk in front of someone whilst they’re using a white cane, you’re obviously going to get hit with it. I’m not saying that you have to completely move out of our way, i’m just asking that you use a little bit of common sense.

5. Don’t just walk away without telling them that you’re doing so.

This again is incredibly irritating. Imagine the scene if you can, i’m sat in a restaurant having a lovely meal with a few friends, and a member of staff has noticed that my glass is empty, so comes over to ask if I would like another drink. I of course say yes, but instead of going to get my drink right away, we start chatting, and then after a minute or two they go off to get my drink without telling me that they are doing so. I obviously don’t realise that they have gone to get my drink, so am now sat there talking to myself like a complete and utter nut case. It’s incredibly embarrassing, because as well as looking and feeling like a nut case, we then have to be told by our friends that we’re talking to ourselves. If you’re having a conversation with a visually impaired person, and have done talking to them, just let us know that you’re walking away from us, so we aren’t left talking to ourselves.

There’s a lot more things not to do when you interact with a visually impaired person, but I thought that I would just tell you five of them.

Have you had any awkward interactions because you’re visually impaired? What were they? Have I missed anything out? Please let me know down below.

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Luke x

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  1. You nailed it! I can’t tell you how many people have ran in front of me while I’m using my cane. I have limited central vision and can tell when someone does this. Kids and toddlers don’t bother me as much, they’re young and still learning. But full grown adults walking right in my path? No excuse for it!

    • I totally agree with you Amy. I visited my local ASDA yesterday and the amount of fully grown adults that walked into me was ridiculous. The thing that really annoyed me was that only two of them actually apologised.

  2. Great post! It’s funny how people think that using words about sight might offend people with visual impairments. People who are deaf deal with other similar attitudes (I’m deafblind). People avoid using phrases like, “Did you hear about…” and “Music” (!), haha! But these words do not offend us and quite frankly, many deaf people enjoy music!

    It’s so great to discover new blogs by people who are blind/VI!

  3. I’m sure this would be helpful to lots of people – thanks so much for sharing it!

  4. This post hit the nail right on it’s head. I dislike when people talk as if we aren’t there. We have a vision problem. Not a hearing problem. (Well, most don’t. I really do have a hearing issue on top of a visual issue.

  5. What a great blog. Thanks for these things and some of your other posts. Very useful for me in my job-and real life as well! Thank you for taking the time to share.

  6. I’ve seen someone – I guess they were trying to help? – grab someone’s white cane and start trying to guide them across a road. Without being asked to. That seems awful to me, and I hope most people would know better than to do this!

  7. Pingback: The Sunshine Blogger Award | Luke Sam Sowden

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