Proper Etiquette When Meeting a Blind Person                   

 

Many sighted people who haven’t interacted with a blind or visually impaired person before are sometimes worried about doing or saying the wrong thing.  Just remember, visually impaired people want what everyone wants – to be treated with kind courtesy and understanding. 

 

Below are a few tips shared by our participants, members, and staff:

 

·        “When a sighted person enters a room, they can look around to see who is there.  When a blind person enters a room, we don’t know who is there unless we’re introduced or someone tells us.  If you know someone is blind, introduce yourself by name, introduce others, and if you’d like to shake someone’s hand simply say “It’s nice to meet you,” or “I’d love to shake your hand” and take my hand when I offer it.  Also, after we’ve spoken, please let me know if you’re stepping away.  Otherwise, I won’t know that you’re gone.”

 

·        “It may sound silly, but blind people have trouble seeing, not hearing.  Unless you know that someone has hearing trouble, please don’t yell.  Also, don’t speak to my husband or friend instead of me.”

 

·        “Many sighted people are nervous about saying “Great to see you, Bob,” or “You look great, Nancy” to a blind person.  These are common phrases that everyone uses, there’s no need to avoid them.”

 

·        “At home, at work, or anywhere, please don’t move objects out of their regular place without letting me know.  Also, leaving cabinet doors open or chairs pulled out can be dangerous.”

 

·        “It’s great when someone wants to help, but please don’t assume that I need it, especially if I’m walking.  Simply ask if I’d like help instead of grabbing my arm.  If I would, I’ll be happy to take your arm if you leave your arm at your side.”

 

·        “Whether we realize it or not, a lot of communication is nonverbal.  Be sure to say your responses aloud and be specific instead of waving, nodding your head, or pointing.  If you’re describing where something is, don’t say “it’s over there.”  When you tell a blind person where something is or where to go, please be specific.”

 

·        “When my guide dog and I are walking, please don’t distract, pet, or play with him.  If you think he’s misbehaving, please tell me so I can discipline him myself.”

 

·        “So many people aren’t aware of the assistive technologies that make access possible.  Please don’t seem surprised when you learn that I use the Internet regularly.”

 

·        “Keep in mind that there are many levels of visual impairment.”

 

·        “If you’re giving me change back from a purchase or you’re breaking a large bill for me, please tell me how much money you’re handing me and in what denominations so I can store it correctly.  For example, saying ”I’m giving you ten dollars, here’s a five and on top are five singles” is most helpful.”

 

·        “Blind people are people!  We have friends and family, hobbies, interests, senses of humor, just like everyone else.  Don’t be intimidated or paused about approaching us or holding a conversation.”

 

·        When telling a Blind or Visually Impaired person where something is don’t use phrases like:  “it is over there” or “what you’re looking for is over here.”  Please be as specific and descriptive as possible. 

 

 ·     When giving a blind person money, be sure to tell the person how much and in what denominations it will be given so they can store the money correctly.  For example you might say, ”I am giving you ten dollars, there is a five dollar bill, and on top are five singles.”

 

 

 

 

 

Have a question about proper etiquette when interacting with a blind or visually impaired person?  Email us at info@njbca.org.