As our society ages, we seem to encounter more people with severely limited vision. These 7 tips will help you both to understand and to be helpful.
1. Always, always, always introduce yourself. Even if you think the person should recognize your voice, introduce yourself. This simple act is extremely helpful to the person who cannot see you.
2. On the same occasion, always say when you are leaving the area. “I am going to check on the children, but I will be right back.” Or “I am going over to speak with Joe; would you like to come along?”
3. Allow your legally blind friend to take your arm if you are going to another place. You can politely offer your arm, “would you like to hold on to me?” Do not grab or pull your friend along.
4. As you are walking, do watch for curbs or anything that might be in your path.
You can say “Oops, there is a big sign in our way, let’s go around to the right.”
5. When presenting a plate of food, it is helpful if you tell the legally blind person where the food is on the plate, using the face of a clock as a pattern. “Your green beans are at 3:00 and your bread is at 6. Your chicken is at noon.”
6. Around the house, be sure to keep floor clutter picked up. Clutter, even toys, can be dangerous for a person who cannot see them. If you are in the home of a person with a vision impairment, be sure to replace any objects exactly as you found them.
7. Freely chat, visit, laugh and enjoy just as you did before the person lost his vision. You do not need to be careful about using “sighted words” like “did you see that program on television?”
If you have children, this is a perfect opportunity to teach them good etiquette around anyone who has a disability. Please teach your children the 7 items mentioned above. Courtesy and kindness are always appreciated.