Resources & Education

Meeting someone who is blind or visually impaired can be an opportunity to expand our understanding of the world and connect with someone who has unique experiences. However, it can also be intimidating if you are unsure of what to do or not to do in their presence. Here are some guidelines on what to do and what not to do when you meet a blind person.

What to do when talking to someone who is visually impaired:

  1. Introduce yourself: If you approach someone who is visually impaired, introduce yourself by stating your name, and then wait for them to do the same. This helps to establish a connection and avoids awkwardness.
  2. Ask before offering assistance: If you notice that a visually impaired person might need help, such as crossing the street, ask if they would like your assistance before offering it. Some individuals may prefer to do things independently, so it’s always best to ask first.
  3. Speak normally: There is no need to shout or speak in a different tone when speaking to a visually impaired person. Speak normally and clearly, as you would with anyone else.
  4. Use descriptive language: When providing directions or describing something, use descriptive language that includes visual cues, such as “to your left,” “up ahead,” or “the building with the red door.”
  5. Offer assistance with care: If a visually impaired person accepts your assistance, provide it with care, and respect their boundaries. Always ask before taking hold of their arm or offering physical assistance.

What NOT to do when talking to someone who is visually impaired:

  1. Assume they need help: Never assume that a visually impaired person needs help. Some individuals are highly independent and may not require assistance with everyday tasks.
  2. Touch them without permission: It’s important to avoid touching a visually impaired person without their permission, as it can be invasive and uncomfortable.
  3. Assume they cannot participate: Don’t assume that a visually impaired person cannot participate in activities or events. Many individuals with visual impairments lead active and fulfilling lives.
  4. Use words like “see” or “look”: Avoid using words like “see” or “look” when speaking to a visually impaired person, as it can be insensitive.
  5. Pet or distract guide dogs: It’s essential to respect guide dogs and avoid petting or distracting them. These dogs are trained to help their owners navigate the world and are not pets.

In conclusion, meeting a visually impaired person can be a rewarding experience if approached with respect and care. Remember to introduce yourself, ask before offering assistance, speak normally and use descriptive language, and provide assistance with care if accepted. Avoid making assumptions, touching without permission, using insensitive language, assuming they cannot participate, and distracting guide dogs. With these guidelines, you can confidently engage with visually impaired individuals and help build inclusive communities.