I'd like to share something with you.
It's a little list called "Courtesy rules when you meet a person who is blind".
Just in case you're wondering why I wanna show you this ... I've a few friends who happen to be blind. Sometimes when we talk about our days at work, university or whatever happened in our lives, my friends tell me about some awkward or negative experiences with sighted folks. "Negative" because some people treat others with a disability not very polite and they forget that they are normal people, just like you and I.
Courtesy rules when you meet a person who is blind
When you meet a blind person, don't be ill at ease.
~ Treat people who are blind or visually impaired as you would anyone else. They do the same things you do, but sometimes use different techniques.
~ You don't need to raise your voice. Shouting won't improve a person's vision. Don't address a person who is blind as if s/he were a child. Talk directly to them, not through their companion. Loss of sight is not loss of intellect.
~ When entering or leaving a room, identify yourself and be sure to mention when you are leaving. Address the person by name so they will know you are speaking to them. Introduce him/her to the others. Include children, and tell if there's a cat or dog.
~ If someone looks like they may need assistance, ask. They will tell you if they do. Do not "over-assist". If they are about to encounter a dangerous situation, voice your concerns in a calm and clear manner.
~ Pulling or steering a person is awkward and confusing. Avoid grabbing their arm or their dog's harness.
~ Ask "Would you like me to guide you?" Offering your elbow is an effective and dignified way to lead a person who is blind. Do not be afraid to identify yourself as an inexperienced sighted guide and ask the person for tips on how to improve. They'll probably keep a half-step behind, to anticipate curbs and steps.
~ If you leave them alone in an unfamiliar area, make sure it is near something they can touch--a wall, table, rail, etc. Being left out in empty space can be very uncomfortable.
~ Be sure to give useful directions. Phrases, such as "across the street" and "left at the next corner", are more helpful than vague descriptions like "over there."
~ Don't be afraid to use the words "see", "watch", "look". These are used in speech and their omission would be evident, making conversation unnatural and uncomfortable.
~ In a restaurant, give clear directions to available seats. Your offer to read the menu aloud may be appreciated, but you shouldn't assume that they would not want to order their own food.
~ When the food arrives, ask if they would like to know what is on their plate. You can describe the location of food items by using clock position: Your coffee is at 3 o'clock; the sugar is at 1 o'clock. And a person who is blind will not have trouble with ordinary table skills.
~ Leave doors all the way open or all the way closed; half-open doors or cupboards are dangerous. Don't rearrange furniture or personal belongings without letting them know.
~ Don't talk about the "wonderful compensations" of blindness. Their sense of smell, touch or hearing did not improve when they became blind. They rely on them more and therefore, may get more information through these senses than you do -- that's all.
There is no 'sixth sense' to enable visually impaired people to perform such feats as getting on the right bus or preparing a meal without sight. It takes common sense and practice.
Neither are visually impaired people more (or less!) clever, cheerful, outgoing, generous, creative or musical than people with sight. If they do happen to have any of these traits or talents, in the words of David Scott Blackhall, (a visually impaired broadcaster) 'it is because they are people, not because they are blind'.
~ If a blind person is your houseguest, show them the bathroom, closet, dresser, window - the light switch, too. They might like to know wether the lights are on.
~ They'll discuss blindness with you if you're curious, but it's an old story to them. They have as many other interests as you do. So just be sensitive when questioning people about their blindness. This is personal information and boundaries should be respected.
~ Don't think of them as just a blind person. S/he is just a person who happens to be blind.
~ As tempting as it may be to pet a guide dog, remember that this dog is responsible for leading someone who cannot see. The dog should never be distracted from that duty. A person's safety may depend on their dog's alertness and concentration.
They are just normal people like everyone else and my purpose for posting this, is to improve understanding between sighted and blind / visually impaired people and to correct misconceptions.
Have a nice Sunday!