Blindness affects one in every 30 Americans, meaning that chances are you’re going to encounter someone who has impaired vision. Not everyone knows the proper way to behave around people with impaired vision.
The most important thing to remember about the blind is that they’re just like anyone else, only they can’t see. That, first and foremost, should determine how you treat them. Here are some specific tips:
• Blind people are not mentally deficient, uneducated or deaf. That means they can understand adult explanations at a normal volume.
• Similarly, blind people are capable of asking for what they need and of answering questions put to them.
• Taking pains to avoid sight-oriented language is likely to be more awkward for a blind person than simply using words and phrases such as “see,” “look” or “watch out for.” Blind people are familiar with these terms.
• Never pet or feed a guide dog, even a cute one. Guide dogs are highly trained working animals and don’t respond well to distraction.
• Remember to always greet the blind when entering their immediate surroundings and to let them know when you are leaving.
• Don’t leave a door ajar, which could be dangerous; the door should either be fully open or fully closed.
• When helping the blind cross a street, make it clear you are talking to them so they know they are about to be assisted. Even when not accepted, an offer of assistance is usually appreciated. If you relax, you’ll make it easier to sense when you’ve reached the curb.
• Walk in a straight line and avoid any unnecessary or sudden movements.
• If you come across steps, describe them and say how many there are and whether they go up or down.
These tips are from the Blinded Veterans Association.