Looking for advice for Disability Awareness Month 2016

I am designing a poster for Disability Awareness Month 2016 for my university to highlight key issues surrounding vision loss and blindness. I was wondering if anyone had some key advice for people who don't know how to act around blind people or maybe a sentence explaining what its like being blind/visually impaired? (Or if you know someone who is). Or a story of something that has been funny/interesting/odd that represents a situation that was a challenge because of vision loss but not for the obvious reasons!

Any suggestions you could give me would be gratefully received!

(BA)Hons Graphic Design

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Re: Looking for advice for Disability Awareness Month 2016

Thanks for the info, Audrey. I'm writing a short story about a visually impaired person and want it to be authentic. I appreciate the practical info about what visually impaired people want and how others should interact.

Re: Looking for advice for Disability Awareness Month 2016

Hi Ruth-I am a woman who is visually impaired and have been for many years. I have some thoughts on your project. Visual impairment is often very scary and confusing for others who interact with us. People want to help but do not know how. they do not know how to treat us in some situations. Many people do not understand that blindness happens on a spectrum and there are different levels of vision impairment. So here are a few pointers off the top of my head.(based on my own experiences)

* use "people-first" language when referring to me-ie I am a person with a visual impairment... not a "blind lady."
* talk to ME not the person I am with...I can speak for myself. In restaurants, waitress will say to my husband "What does she want?" Well, ask ME, I will tell you! And you don't have to speak loudly to me either-my ears are fine!And don't speak to me like I am a child...

*don't make assumptions about what I can or cannot do for myself-I can do more than you think I can and want to be independent.

*I may need assistance and I will ask you for it. If you see me struggling with something, ask me if I would like some help. Don't just barge in and do it for me. That makes me feel stupid and I need to learn new ways to do things for myself sometimes. Also, ask me "how can I help you?" and I will be the best person to tell you the best way to help.

*don't grab, push, pull on my clothes or shove me around to get me where I need to be. Learn the right way to guide a person who is visually impaired (sighted-guide technique) and do so with dignity and respect. It is most helpful to use descriptive words and instructions if I need to move. Say "the chair is 2 steps in front of you" rather than "the chair is over here." (Where is "over here??)

* I see myself as a whole person...I am not broken, sick, fragile or helpless so please do not treat me that way.

*There is more to me than my blindness so please take the time to get to know me. You can ask respectful questions if you want to learn more about blindness, sure-but I have other cool things to talk about too!

*Remember I cannot see faces, gestures and other subtle communications...I am not day dreaming or ignoring you! Oh and if you stick your hand out to shake mine...I won't see it so make contact with my hand or simply say "I have my hand out to shake yours"...I know it can be awkward but it is necessary.

*Tell me you are there by saying something like "Hi Ruth, its Suzie here." And then tell me when you leave...so I do not continue to talk to you once you have walked away!

*In busy social settings or events, it is really helpful if you would include me by explaining what is going on around me so I can be a part of the dynamics. At a party, tell me who is there, what are they serving, what does the room look like etc. Tell me about a sports event-kind of like giving commentary. In a car, describe to me the scenery, landmarks, etc. This enriches the experience for me and includes me.

*HIRE ME! I am a capable person with skills, training, education, and the desire to work! I have learned many things through living with blindness...I can problem solve, self-advocate, be flexible and patient!

So you get the idea Ruth...there are also tips on the VisionAware site you may want to check out-Communication Tips, Meeting a Person with vision Loss, and Being a Sighted Guide. Just use the site search bar.

These may help too:

Also-these articles may give you more insight:



All the best to you! Audrey ademmitt@afb.net

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