Thank you for your interest in learning more on ways to interact with a blind person. Either you are here for the following reasons:
- You are a person who is curious, and wants to learn more about ways to interact with someone who is blind.
- Or, you are one of my new friends who I sent the link for you to read this guide to fully understand more on how you should interact with me the right way.
This guide is in no way intended to be mean to anyone. While I understand that:
- You have never met a blind person before
- Or, you have met one before, but you don’t exactly know how to interact with them correctly,
I am going to teach you, from my personal experience, on the right way of interacting with me, whether in the community, social gatherings, etc.
I am also writing this guide for a few reasons, including:
- To tell you my experiences with meeting new people from a young blind person’s perspective.
- And, to tell you how I feel in different situations.
A Note Before We Proceed
This guide has two parts to it:
- Interacting With Me As A Friend
- Interacting with me as a partner in a relationship.
So, let’s get started!
Interacting With Me As A Friend
Getting To Know Me
Here is some information on getting to know me.
Please Remember That I Am Only Different In Vision
This doesn’t mean that I have other medical conditions, such as hearing loss or other conditions that impacts the ability to speak. In summary, don’t assume that I have other disabilities. Treat me normally like everyone else.
Don’t Assume That I Am Not Intelligent
I am very smart in technology, and I am passionate about advocacy.
Also, as you can see, I am good at building websites, like this one that you are viewing.
In summary, don’t assume that I am not smart. If I don’t know something, I will say, “I don’t know.,” or, “Can you explain … to me?”
This is a big one for me. I may not remember your voice the first few times. After I get use to the sound of your voice, I will remember what you sound like. And sometimes, I may forget. So, if I ask for your name in the future, don’t get upset or offended. Just identify yourself, and the memory of me meeting you the first time in person will somehow come back to me.
Say Something Before Leaving To Go Somewhere
If you will be right back to get something, such as a drink, don’t just leave me at the place that I am at, such as a table for me to guess where you are going.
First, let me know by saying something like this: “I’ll be right back. I’m going to get some food.” You may also ask me if I would like to come with you. If so, I’ll say my answer. And also, same thing goes when you are back. You can say, “I am back” or something else to let me know that you just came back.
Don’t Be Afraid To Start A Conversation With Me
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You can ask about my family, what I am passionate about, my plans for the future, etc.
This is a big one for me. For example, if you promised to drive me so I can vent to you this upcoming weekend, whether via text message or a phone call, keep that promise. I can’t tell you how upset I got every time that someone promised me to do something, such as taking me for a drive, but that promise falls through either because they make excuses or if they don’t answer my text messages on the day of. If it repeats over and over again, for example, my respect is lost for that person until they can prove to me that they can keep a promise.
Yes, I understand that things come up, such as family emergencies. I usually plan way up-to a few weeks in advance, so I can be sure that I have time for our schedules just in case if something comes up. That way, we can work together on a specific day before or after an event that you or I may have to attend.
And, if that day comes up, and if it is a valid emergency or something, just let me know. Don’t just leave me in the dark on what’s going on by not texting or by calling me. Yes, it happened to me a few times. Just text me saying, “Hey. Due to …, I won’t be able to pick you up to take you for a drive. Would you like to go for a drive sometime next week when you get off of work or something? I’d be happy to pick you up from work and take you on a drive around the city, or whenever you are free.”
It shows me that you respect me. I’ll understand and respond accordingly.
It also shows me that you deeply care about me.
Being Social With Me
In this section, I will go over on how to include me socially, such as conversations.
Include Me In Normal Conversations At Social Gatherings
Please don’t talk around me or at someone else. I would like to be included in your conversations as well. Yeah, I wlike to watch television, such as CBS, but that doesn’t mean that I can see it. I rely on Audio Description to know about what’s going on.
Describe The Environment/Surroundings
If I am in a new place, such as an unfamiliar bar or coffee shop that I haven’t been before, describe the surroundings, such as objects, people, etc.
Also, if there is a stage, and someone is performing, describe what they are doing to me.
I can’t tell you how many times that I had to ask, “What is going on…”
Don’t Pet A Guide Dog
Since I am not a guide dog user, I have never experienced this. If you see a blind person with a guide dog, however, it is offensive to pet/speak to a guide dog. This is distracting for the dog and the person who is handling the dog.
Being A Good Friend
Below, you will find information on ways on being a good friend to me.
Invite Me To Events, Even Though That You May Assume That I Am Not Interested In Attending
If you are going out to events, and you are passing through my area or thinking that I may be interested, reach out to me and ask if I want to come with you to that event. It can be a concert, going to the bar to listen to music, or whatever event that you are attending (if it is a public event).
Don’t assume that I am not interested in the event that you are attending. All you have to do is either call or text me. For example, you may say:
- Hey Armando! I am going to … at …. Would you like to come? I’d be happy to pick you up and take you home.
- Hey Armando! … is … at …. Would you still like to come? I know that you are stuck in the house, and I really want you to get out. It is up to you though. If you like, I can pick you up and take you. I’d be happy to take you back home as well.
- Hey Armando! I noticed that you are stressed due to …. Want to go to … happening this weekend? You don’t have to do the activities. We can just talk, or you can ride around the city or go on a short road trip with me just to vent if you like.
If I say no, don’t take it personally. I may have other plans that day. Also, it will make me happy that you took the time and effort to reach out to me.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
This is a huge one for me. For example, if you are on the way to pick me up, let me know by either calling or texting. That way, I can be prepared and ready when you get to where I am at.
For me, I don’t have to ask if you can let me know if you are on the way or anything like that.
Be Dependable And Reliable
This goes back to the car ride situation. If you want to be there for me, let me know that I can rely on you. Again, don’t say, “I’ll take you on a drive this weekend…” or, “I’ll pick you up today after …” and not fall through it. This will make me very upset, and will easily lose my respect for you from not showing up for the first time, or by making invalid excuses in a pattern that I will notice after a while.
If I need transportation to an event, offer me transportation. While I can take Uber or Lyft, I would rather save money if the event was across town or in a different city, such as Atlanta or something like that.
And, again, don’t bail on me saying that you will be somewhere or are going to do something for me in the future.
Be Patient And Understanding
Yes, I may take longer to do things, but it is frustrating for me to feel like I am being rushed. Please be patient and understanding.
This is self-explanatory. If you are polite to others around you, be the same way to me.
Be There For Me In Times of Need
If I am going through something, such as having a bad day, show me that you will be there for me. I will be there for you if you are going through something. For example, I find that car rides are a fun way to get stuff off my chest. If you can’t drive at the moment due to not having a license, for example, we can talk on the phone. That way, I can rant about what’s going on. If you are busy, we can find a free time to talk that will fit both of us.
The biggest and best rule of thumb is to have fun with me! If you are planning to do activities, such as playing JackBox Games, let me know! I have tested out the games, such as the trivia ones and the ones that you have to write out the answers, and it is about 99.99% accessible for me to play! And maybe, my happy/funny side will probably show.
Interacting With Me As A Partner In A Relationship
While you have the basics of knowing on how to interact with me as a friend, there are similar ways on interacting with me as a partner in a relationship.
Treat Me The Same As You Treat Other People
Don’t treat me differently just because I am blind. This means that you should not make fun of me or anything that would hurt someone.
Ask Me Questions
If you are not sure about something, I would be happy to answer. Just ask. Don’t be shy.
Be Patient And Understanding
Yes, it may take longer to do some things, such as answering a question that you ask me that requires me to think. Just be patient and also understanding as well.
Learn About My Blindness
The more you know about blindness, the better equipped you will be to understand my needs and experiences. There are many resources available online and in libraries that can help you learn about blindness.
Talk To Me About My Needs
The best way to know how to support me is by asking me directly, like:
- What accommodations do I need in order to live my life to the fullest? Examples may include, but not limited to accessible cooking gadgets that can be accessed by the blind, an area where I can put my food/groceries separate from your groceries, etc.
- My strengths and weaknesses
- or, my hopes and dreams
Be Honest With Me
Don’t try to cover me from the world. Let me know about things that are going on, even if I may not be able to see them. I can still hear them, however, unless it is visual that requires the use of the eyes. If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to describe it to me.
Be Willing To Learn New Things
If you are reading this part of the guide, then you are someone that is willing to learn new things. Be opened to learning about my experiences from my perspective.
Be Aware of Surroundings When We’re Out
When you are out with me guiding me around, or me following you, make sure that you are aware of the surroundings in the area, and make sure that I am safe.
Be Supportive And Loving In Times of Need
If I need you in times in need, be there for me. Offer your support and encouragement. If you are there for me, I’ll do the same thing for you. Also, let me know that you are there for me no matter what.
By following these steps above, you can show that you love and care about me, regardless of my disability.
These are the resources that helped me put this guide together. You are free to view the resources below if you like.