Five Things You Should NOT Do:
One. It is important not to help a blind person unless they ask for it. For example, I don’t like when people pick up my cane every time I put it on the floor. That is holding a blind person back from being as independent as possible. If a blind person is struggling with the task, let them work through it. If assistance is needed, the blind person will ask for it. Blind people should work through everyday tasks and learn to adapt to their environment.
Two. Never send pictures or videos in the form of a text message on a blind person’s device. Usually their device cannot read them. Unfortunately, voiceover does not audibly describe picture messages or play videos.
Three. Never turn on the light for a blind person. A blind person does not need the light on. This is another example of how a sighted person unnecessarily provides assistance to a blind person.
Four. Never put objects in the walkway because the blind person can trip over them. Imagine putting on a blindfold and walking through your own house. Now, imagine putting on a blindfold and walking through a stranger’s house or unfamiliar place. It is important to keep the walkway clear so that the blind person has the most accessibility in a new environment.
Five. Do not touch a blind person’s belongings unless given permission. It is important to respect a blind person’s possessions as you would with any other person. If a blind person needs assistance with one of their belongings, they will ask.
Five Things You SHOULD Do:
One. Give detailed descriptions of visual concepts including pictures, videos, etc. It is important to provide these descriptions when there is no dialogue in the video. It helps the blind person understand the context of the plot.
Two. When you talk about a visual concept, it is good to compare it to a sound or auditory concept. This helps blind people understand because they experience things through sound. For example, if a blind person is doing something that may be visually distracting, a sighted person can explain their behavior to them by comparing it to something that is audibly distracting.
Three. Allow the blind person to hold onto your elbow when you are guiding them from place to place, such as crowded places and traffic light intersections. This is called sighted guide. Allowing the blind person to hold onto your elbow as opposed to pushing them from behind helps them be directly in step along side the sighted person at a normal pace.
Four. Encourage the blind person to use their cane more and hold onto your arm less when traveling anywhere there is a sidewalk. This encourages independence in traveling and sharpens their cane skills.
Five. Speak in a normal voice to a blind person. This type of voice includes a volume, speed, and pitch that you would use in a normal conversation with anyone else. If a blind person is in danger, speak to them calmly and make them aware of the situation.
It is important to me to empower blind people to overcome obstacles and not be held back. When blind people are included in society, it makes the world so much better. Everybody can enjoy the same things whether you are blind or sighted.