A few weeks ago I posted an article on the obligations of blind and low vision people to realize that not everything is about them. This came about, in part, because people were asking me what they should do in certain circumstances when around me. So here is a partial list of the things that you can do for me. I warn you before reading this post that it is totally tongue in cheek. My goal is to generate a few chuckles and smiles. So here goes.
I have low vision, am legally blind and use a long white cane to get around. Many people ask what they can do for me so I decided to make a short list.
1. When speaking to me, always raise your voice, a lot. This will enable me to know that you are talking to me and will have the additional effect of letting me know that I am not deaf. It is a two for one bonus type of thing.
2. For advanced people, talk loudly and look at someone else while talking to me. I simply cannot put into words how good it makes me feel to be spoken of in the third person. Examples of this include people asking my wife if I am hungry and whether or not I like certain food.
3. Parents should teach young children to be as loud as possible when in public places. Wailing and crying should be encouraged. This will allow me to practice trying to differentiate ambient sounds while trying to follow a conversation.
4. For the sporting parents, teach your kids to ride a bicycle as close as possible to me while I am out walking. For the advanced child, teach them to holler in my ear when they go by on their bikes. This will, of course, make me feel loved as well as making me feel a part of the community. But please warn them that my white cane sometimes has a mind of its own. It is 52 inches long. I mention this because I do not want any of these young adults to wind up with a cane in the spokes of their Schwinn’s.
5. When in a group while looking for ideas to entertain us, suggest activities which require physical contact. Ice hockey is a favorite but only if I can be the goalie. Please remind me that real men do not wear masks!
6. For those times when physical activity is not the ticket suggest a movie. But it must be an adventure movie that is largely sight dependent. Make sure there is as little dialogue as possible. Movies such as Rocky (“Yo Adrian”) or TV shows such as Walker, Texas Ranger (“Let’s do it”) can be especially helpful in challenging my detective skills. Also, please alert me to violence or nudity so that I may avert my eyes.
7. When we are in a public place and I get up, be sure to ask in a loud voice (see #1, above) where I am going and then announce my destination. This is especially a good idea if I am going to the men’s room. This will help me to be the center of attention—always a worthy goal.
8. When out in a group, continually ask me if I am OK or if there is anything else that you can do for me, all the while observing rule #1 above. This is really for you so that you can let everyone know how solicitous and understanding that you are of us blind folk.
That’s it for now. If you cannot remember what is on this list print it out and bring it with when we are together. Better still, just ask me. I will be sure to tell you what to do.
P.S. In one form or another I have experienced all of the things I mentioned above. OK OK—no one ever reminded me that real men don’t wear a goalie’s mask
I wish everyone a great holiday season and a splendid new year.