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Peeves Of The Blind And Visually Impaired

Page history last edited by Capri 4 years, 4 months ago


Peeves Of The Blind And Visually Impaired

This is a rarity, an excellent article that went a bit viral, at least among the visually impaired community on the net. A friend posted a link on Facebook, and another sent it in an email.

The Hubpage posted on Facebook, belongs to Sheila McCleary, who authored the piece, posting it there as well as on her Teacher Page.

It is fairly common knowledge within the visually impaired community, and probably generates a lot of quiet agreement from sed community as it is read. But it is a great write-up that could really help sighted people out when around the blind. For that matter, it can help anyone out around someone else who has any sort of physical disability. A lot of these are blind-specific, but the basic message is, please treat everyone as equals and have the consideration to assist them when they require it, and please take the time to understand when and how assistance is needed or not required.

This one really does have valuable information and the intent was 100% good. So it gets a KUDOS from me!

I'll just insert my comments throughout.

Also, Why Many People With Disabilities Do Not Want To Be Considered Inspirational by Carola finch is an excellent read!

* * *

Sheila: Pet Peeves of the Blind and Visually Impaired

Capri: And I have experienced them all at some point, with others still continuing to happen.

Sheila: 1. The Guessing Game.

Capri: *Wince and groan* Oh, boy! Tell me about it! *Eye-roll*

Sheila: "Hey [insert name here]! Do you know who I am?" Oh, please don't do this. I've seen adults do this with students (a lot) and frankly, it's just rude. Don't put that person in a position to be embarrassed just in case they don't remember. Yes, they will recognize familiar voices, and you may know they recognize you, but please resist the temptation to prove it to others by quizzing them. Don't you think you'd feel a little stressed if you thought you'd be tested about people every time you went out? Be considerate and identify yourself!

Capri: Thank you, THANK YOU!! Amen to that!

I get SO sick of people doing that! Thankfully, it hasn't happened recently, but I would really like people to not ever do this in the future.

C'mon, I outgrew guessing games in about 3rd grade. When you play the guessing game, it condescends to me. You are telling me "Hi, Capri, I can't get over the fact that you are blind. But I still think you're so smart in spite of it because you can recognize people even if you can't see them. wow!"

Yeah well get over it!

You gotta be still so emotionally stunted that you need me playing kindergarten level games with you to help you show off how amazingly perceptive I think you are! Do you get what I mean? I'm actually praising you, not putting you down."

Bull! Damn your back-peddling excuses. i know condescending crap when I hear it,

I'm here to socialize, not to provide some sort of entertainment, (other than perhaps piano music,) and recognizing people by voice isn't all that amazing, really, it isn't. Everyone who can hear, does it to at least some extent. I'm not some sort of lab specimen to be put through her paces every time you meet me somewhere, so treat me like everyone else and strike up a normal conversation with me. For an added consideration, telling me who you are when you greet me is much appreciated, unless of course we are so familiar with each other that it's apparent I know who you are right off the bat.

Sheila: 2. Being afraid of the "S" word.

Capri: *Jumping up and down* Oh…My…Gosh! This behaviour from people, where they're afraid to use "see" "watch" etc. REALLY offends me! I've wanted to kick in walls every time somebody hit me with that unthinking, over-the-top politically correct version of discrimination!

Sheila: Someone can be talking to a blind or partially sighted person and say something like, "Let's go see what's for lunch." Then they gasp and think, oh no, I shouldn't have said "see"! Lighten up. Everyone uses "see" and "look" and "watch out!" Even the blind or visually impaired person.

Capri: Yes! Yes, yes, YES! And when you get all "Oh, I meant 'listen' to the TV" Aaaaaaaaaagh! *Facepalm!* You know what that tells me about you? You are saying "Oh, Capri, you poor BLIND person, I must always tippy-toe and speak a very special vocabulary around you, because I think you will think of me as being cruel and unthinking. When around a blind person, I must use only blind talk."


*Glare* Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-argh!! No! So - dang - much - NO! Talk normal, genius!

*Takes deep breath and sighs to calm down*

Well, people, there is no such thing as blind talk, or, Blindish, if you will, and there shouldn't be. You are only telling me with this PC-ness that once again, you only see - (yes, I just used that word) me as a disability and not a fellow human being, and you have a big problem with me because of it, more problem with it than I ever had even since I was a little kid just learning to figure things out about what my visual differences were about. And that offends me beyond description!

The same thing happens to people in wheelchairs too. They go for 'walks' using their chairs. And some people are afraid to use the word 'walk' around them, too.

And there are probably those who are afraid to write the phrase "Hear me out" to a deaf person!


Don't give me this "I'll use 'listen' instead of watch" stuff. Yes, there are some things to consider when it comes to my lack of vision, but that has nothing to do with how to talk around me. I am not mad at other people for being sighted. That would be profoundly twisted.

And yes, I watch movies. No, it is not strange or bad taking me to a movie.

There was this guy who dated me very briefly one summer, and he asked me to a movie. And then he had second thoughts, foolishly worrying what other people would think of him taking "a blind girl" to a movie.

Really? *Facepalm*

and here I had thought he was long past that ignorance. We'd been out at public functions before. So that attitude floored me, to say the least.

And you can talk to me about what it's like to be blind, or how I got that way. I don't mind. You'll never know unless you ask.

But also remember that I'm just like anyone else, and want to talk about other things that are completely unrelated to blindness the vast majority of the time. That is, ask questions if you have them, but otherwise, just let the conversation flow naturally like you would with anyone else.

While on the subject of language, I don't care what terms you use about/around me, blind, visually impaired, same diff. Just know that this aspect of me doesn't need to be in the forefront of conversations. Only when it's necessary. You don't talk to asthmatics about their asthma all the time, do you? Well, same goes here.

Political correctness can take a hike.

Here's another excellent page about language surrounding disabilities. I actually hadn't heard or thought of this before. It's called "people first" language, and what it is - politically correct speech concerning disabilities.

Sheila: 3. I'm blind, not deaf.

Capri: Lol! I've run into this too! Man, when people talk really loud and enunciate so clearly to the point where they sound like robots, they come off as so dorky! and again, it is annoying because they aren't getting it.

Sheila: HELLO, HOW ARE YOU?? Which goes along with one of my own pet peeves: "You teach blind kids? So you must know sign language?" Um, NO. I know braille.

Capri: Whaaaaaaaaat!? The heck!?

Sheila: I wish I had a dime for every time someone asked me that - to include administrators during an interview. Sometimes they "get it", but sometimes they don't, but that's okay because I've just deducted 5 IQ points from them. :) And, for the record, I have taken sign language classes, but since I don't have any deaf-blind students, I have long forgotten it. I wonder if teachers of the hearing impaired get asked if they know braille...

Capri: LOL Hahahahahaha! Lol lol lol! Oh, gads, I hear ya, and this just cracked me up!

Sheila: 4. Blind people can hear everything. The flip side of #3, people assume the visually impaired have so much better hearing than the rest of us. No, but they do rely on it much more, so they are probably listening and paying attention better. Not necessarily paying attention to the teacher, though. They also don't have visual "distractors" so to speak, so they can focus more on what they hear. Unless they don't want to hear it, of course. They are human, after all.

Capri: Exactly! I have nothing more to add to this one. It was beautifully put.

Sheila: 5. "I don't really believe he's blind, even with that white cane. I'm not moving from this side of the hallway." That attitude will leave you sprawled out on the floor when the person barrels into you. Here's a good rule: Don't play chicken with a blind person. You will always lose. Instead, get out of the way, or at least make yourself known by saying something or making a noise.

Capri: Yes - and I'll add - when you're in my house, where I'm moving around freely about because I'm familiar with the surroundings, please be considerate and not leave the place messed up with shoes tossed just anywhere, toys scattered all over when the kids are done playing, purses, bags, jackets etc. sprawled on chairs where you don't intend to sit, (we do have these nice little places for stashing such stuff when you visit - they are called closets. I will naturally do my best to maneuver carefully when I know your kids are and will be continuing to play with their toys in a certain area. I just ask that when they are for sure done, please put the toys away so I won't trip on them or end up breaking any by inadvertently stepping on it.

And, this is every bit as if not more important, concerning the rest of your stuff all over the place. Maybe I want to sit down in a chair and feel I can't because you left your stuff all over and in it when you are clearly now sitting somewhere else. Can I sit there now? Really? Are you in fact done sitting there now or do you intend to come back? Oh, really? Okay - but...Um… It isn't up to me to move your things.

While we're on the subject of chairs, please, for the love of not getting bashed up bods and limbs, tuck chairs back in at the table when you're no longer sitting in them so I won't smack into them on my way somewhere else. Because I'm not going to be poking around slowly, and looking down trying to see if there are any chairs sitting in the middle of the walking space of the kitchen floor when I know nobody's sitting there any more Thanks!

Sheila: 6. Holding out your hand to shake theirs without touching their hand.

Capri: Huh? Lol! That's probably happened to me and I never realized it.

Sheila: If that person cannot see your hand, how is he/she supposed to know where your hand is? Answer: They will often extend their hand in anticipation, but if not, tell them you would like to shake their hand and then reach out and take their hand. Same thing goes for handing them something. You would be amazed how many times this happens. "Here's your homework," and then you hold it out in space. Or, even better, don't say anything at all and hold it out. Again, exactly how is he/she going to know where it is? Grope about for it? Sometimes groping is okay, like for finding a dropped item. But when handing things to the visually impaired, please touch their hand with it so they know where it is.

Capri: Exactly! :)

Sheila: Oh, good grief.

Ryan Seacrest tries to high-5 blind Scott MacIntyre on American Idol. Get a clue, Ryan!

Capri: Lol Actually, that is a very forgivable blunder to me. It says Ryan was so genuinely impressed with Scott and forgot he was blind. Ryan was showing his appreciation and not out of pity. He mucked up, but it was a good, funny sort of muck-up.

For me, at least, if you slip up and forget I'm blind, it is not only hilarious most of the time, but it is a huge compliment!

Sometimes my family members do that with me, and we end up having a big laugh over it! Even the people at work share laughs with me over that sort of thing.

And I detest all reality TV including American Idol anyway.

On the subject of admiration for celebrities, if you're talking to a blind person about wanting to be like some celebrity, for goodness sake, don't pick blind celebrities unless the subject is all about blind celebrities.

I can't tell you how many times I fumed inwardly at the one-track-minded people who couldn't get past my blindness when talking to me about my aspirations to be a musician when I grew up. I'd tell them this and they'd go "Oh, like Stevie wonder, eh?" Aaaaaaaaagh! NO! I knew they were only saying that because Stevie is blind. Gah! I wasn't a fan of his - the music I like and play isn't even remotely Wonderesque.

Likewise, just don't compare me to any other blind person when talking about anything positive or negative in my personality or actions. Go ahead and compare other sighted people to some blind people when it comes to personality traits, I do that all the time. You can be sighted or blind and a good musician. You can be obnoxious, and be sighted or blind. You can be the most content person in the world, or have a big chip on your shoulder, and be sighted or blind.

Sheila: Fear factor

Being pulled along when you can't see will definitely pump up the anxiety level and possibly increase scarring!

Capri: Eek! Yes! It's like "Hey, do you realize grabbing me and taking me along with you means you'll have to see for us both lest I get tripped, bashed, or otherwise damaged? Ack!"

Sheila: 7. Low expectations.

Capri: Arrrrrrrrrr-aaaaaaaaaaaggggggh!

Sheila: This includes: the "pity" person (Oh, you poor blind child. You must have a terrible life.),

Capri: *Scowl* Aaaaaaaggh! I can't stand that sort of attitude! It makes me want to turn that person into someone to whom one can say: "You poor sap lying in the ditch! Who did you manage to offend this time?"

Ages ago, I was trying to help support somebody who was a victim of an unspeakable flame-fest on the internet. But when we clashed on things related to her writing or when the flamers had beat her into hiding and I wouldn't give up putting them in their place, this woman's husband, who was an arrogant dolt at the best of times, had the ignorant gall to ask me if I detested bullies so much because I was blind and just taking out "my" issues on the flamers of his damsel in distress.

I actually held my tongue when replying to him, but really wanted to tell him off. He lost me as a potential friend right there and then. Obviously he had a problem with my being blind or he wouldn't have brought it up. He tried to look like less of a putz by comparing his silly psycho-babbling analysis of me to his own struggle with asthma. *Sneer* Yeah, right. It didn't make him any less of a drongo.

The only reason he and the people associated with that whole flamewar thing would've known is because I had to explain whenever they showed me pictures that I wasn't commenting on those and why.

Sheila: the "know-it-all" (Dr. so-and-so can work miracles. I know because my grandmother/nephew/dog has 20-20 now.),

Capri: Urgh! Yeah! Well, guess what, Know-It-All? My condition is way different from your relative/friend/pet's, just because one sight problem has been fixed doesn't mean they all can be. It's like anything else. You could get a crack on the head, but a concussion is treated differently from an injury that's less serious, to name just one other example.

and again, your preoccupation with my blindness tells me you have more of a problem with it than you are able to accept me as a fellow human being. You just can't look past the fact that my eyes don't work. You think one cure fits all where blindness goes and that it should be my only aim in life because I'm somehow defective. Offensive, and all out wrong! And BTW, I don't give two hoots about your friend/relative/pet. I don't know them from a hole in the ground. So take your condescending pitying attitude and fly a kite!

Sheila: "Mr. Helper" (Let me do that, I know it's too hard for you.),

Capri: Yeah, arrrrrgh! hey, you! I'll just show you, so don't presume to know my abilities and limitations better than me! How would you like somebody doing this to you? "Oh, here, let me write that answer for you, because I'm pretty good at this and I'm sure you would stink, so this is just easier for all concerned." That wouldn't feel too good, would it?

Sheila: the "excuse-maker" (I don't want him/her to learn how to make a [insert food here] because they might cut/burn/make a mess. You can't go on that field trip because there might be a terrorist attack and I would worry.),

Capri: Oh, freakin' aaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! "She shouldn't have (insert animal) as a pet because she's blind and can't take good enough care of it - she wouldn't do it my way!" Yes, that exact scenario has happened to me. *Furious scowl* And that isn't just worry about me, it's more a case of "I'm looking out for the animals' best interest" thing. People who do this make a very bitter enemy out of me!

And the excuse-making, over-protective sort drive me up the wall, too! I'm a person, not a china doll. I need to live fully, not be kept from doing things, indeed, helping other people out for that matter when they need it.

And yeah, when proofreading this for errors and things to edit, I was using a heavy-duty pair of scissors (kitchen sheers) to cut some beef jerky, and guess what? I cut myself. heh, no big deal, I just bandaged the cut, (yes, on my own,) washed out the container and the scissors I bled on, had to throw out a small amount of the meat because blood got in it, and the task was done without any further hitches. And guess what? I survived! So hah! :p

Sheila: the "denial/embarrassed person" (Don't use your cane at the store so people won't know you're blind.),

Capri: *Scowl* Oh, sheesh!! A person like that would lose me as a friend, FAST! As in "Don't ever bother to contact me again if that's your attitude. I don't want to associate with such a bigot. Just go back to your 'perfect' little world and go on making everyone else's world less perfect, and don't come crying to me when you end up with no friends one day."

Sheila: and unfortunately, the list goes on and on. Low expectation is probably the worst thing one person can do to another, regardless of abilities. If you aim for low performance, that's likely what you'll get. Don't be an enabler. Being too over-protective will dramatically hinder their progress toward independence and living a happy, social, productive life. Step back. Allow them to fail, get a minor injury, and make their own mistakes. That's how we all learn. Don't forbid them these opportunities.

Capri: I think the low expectations as well as just plain lack of consideration, are the underlying things to everything on this list.

A perfect example of lack of consideration is visual captcha!

Sheila: 8. Would you like to feel my face?

Capri: Eeeeeeeeew! *Recoil, shudder, squick!* NO! *Horrified soon gives way to indignation* Just, no.

Sheila: Whoa. Do you ask sighted people if they'd like to feel your face?

Capri: Exactly! Yeesh!

Sheila: First of all, a blind person is not going to get a lot of information from feeling a face, other than maybe the shape of your nose. There are times when it is appropriate, such as when learning parts of the body.

Capri: which, we have definitely done by school age.

Sheila: But if you are not immediate family, allowing a blind or partially sighted person to "feel" you is very inappropriate.

Capri: That is for sure, especially if it makes either of you uncomfortable, and it certainly does me. I don't feel people - anywhere, and do not like it being done to me.

Sheila: And there are some who will attempt to do just that because they know many people aren't sure about that protocol.

Capri: Yes, and that irks me to no end! It also gives blind people a bad rap. There was a movie that played on this, doing a disservice to blind and sighted alike, and I believe it amounts to slanderous garbage against the person it was supposed to be about.

Sheila: Their hand needs to stay in a handshake, and not move up your arm, and certainly nowhere else!

Capri: Here, here! :)

Sheila: If you wouldn't let a sighted person feel you, don't let a blind one. I've answered this question a lot from sighted people who have felt awkward allowing this to happen. Well, they feel awkward for a reason! It's not socially acceptable! Feeling your hair, or the lack of it, can be appropriate depending on the circumstances. I've also had this question from a parent: How will my son know what a particular girl looks like? Answer: His friends will tell him!!! Oh yes, they will. ;)

Capri: And really, it isn't important what anyone looks like unless you're trying to locate a lost child, catch a criminal, meet up with someone in a public place, stuff like that where their appearance helps you to identify who they are.

Sheila: 9. Rudeness. It's usually just ignorance, but don't assume that any blind or visually impaired person automatically needs help.

Capri: It's a good idea to ask first - or at least politely offer to help if it might be needed. But a lot of rudeness does come from ignorance and people just not thinking.

Sheila: Grabbing the person's arm and pulling them along is wrong on several levels. We know you're probably just trying to be nice, but don't. First, always ask the person if they would like some assistance. Then, use the sighted guide technique correctly. Offer your arm and let them hold it, usually right above the elbow.

Capri:This mistake is much easier to understand and correct and can get the conversation going. At least I realize they weren't acting out of some inability to see past my blindness, they were just trying to help me get somewhere, and didn't get the guiding technique right. and how could they if they never had the experience? This is where some good opportunities for PR can really come in. I've taught people at work how to guide me in and out of the studio, and the result was there is no shortage of students who volunteer to help me out when I need it, and they also let me take care of the things I can on my own. They've become comfortable enough to ask me some basic questions about the visual impairment, but best of all, we also chit-chat about other stuff, normally, without any awkwardness. If someone takes hold of me incorrectly, I will gently correct, pulling my arm out of their grasp with "I'll take your arm," and explain why. I usually follow that up with something about if I miss a step it's my own darn fault for not paying attention to where they are leading. This usually results in a bit of a giggle and there you are, ice broken. I've had to explain to people not to say "Step, step, step" all the time when going up or down stairs with me. With them slightly in front, I can tell when they go up or down that we've come to steps, and I can just follow along. Not to mention that this "Step, step," business completely disrupts the conversation we could otherwise still be having! also, I've had to push them along when they seemed to be suffering from the notion that we should stop at every step or go really slow so I wouldn't fall and break. ugh!

Sheila: Also, if there are several others with the person, speak directly to him/her, not through an "interpreter", as if the person is not there. Say his name, so he knows you are talking to him.

Capri: Yes! Gah, that irritates me too! Just because I'm blind doesn't mean I can't talk or that I'm some sort of idiot at communication.

Sheila: Say his name, so he knows you are talking to him.

Capri: Yes! :) When you know it. Even in the case where you don't, just proceed and look at the blind person when addressing them. Believe it or not, that does help give her the hint you are talking to her because your voice is being directed right toward her. If you don't know her name, for example, you are a server in a restaurant, taking orders, if the blind person is unaware you are trying to talk to her, someone next to her will discreetly indicate to her you are asking her what she wants to order. If she is there alone, she will pick up on that you are talking to her for obvious reasons.

In some situations when you want to get her attention, a quick light tap on the shoulder, arm etc. conveys the same message as it does for a sighted person who has his nose buried in a book and is blissfully unaware you require his attention.

Sheila: 10. Pure meanness. Placing obstacles in the blind or visually impaired person's path, throwing things at them, rearranging furniture, moving or taking their belongings, calling them names, taking them to the wrong place and leaving them. Yes, it is mean - and it happens all too often.

Capri: Yes. I'm so glad I don't have to deal with that any more since elementary or junior high. Kids can be incredibly mean.

Unfortunately, ignorance resulting in low expectations and rude, insulting and alienating behaviour sometimes still persists in the adult world, and that is what really grinds my gears.

Sheila: There will always be Sith among us, but educating ourselves and our children about disabilities may help reduce the bias, discrimination and ignorance.

Capri: Amen to that!

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