Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Blind Observations - The Golden Rule

Golly, I hope I survive being blind. I’ve had more bumps and bruises in the last year than I’ve had since I was a kid. Sometimes I forget to be careful, or I get impatient and try to hurry. The bathroom in our house here is kind of small and I’m always having trouble in there. It’s sort of a tight squeeze between the end of the shower and the sink. Some previous owner put in a larger bathtub/shower I guess. I’m always bumping into the sink with my thigh or my knee. Sometimes I bang it really hard and I think, "That's really going to hurt tomorrow” but it usually doesn't. On the other hand, one day I woke up and my knee was sore, but I couldn’t remember hitting it. It was sore when I woke up and by that afternoon it hurt so bad I could hardly walk on it. It was better the next day, but I never did figure out what happened to it. I also have a burn on my hand from last week. I was cooking some eggs and spam. I burned my hand, but the eggs were perfect! I guess I’ve always been a little clumsy.
Then, just last week, I was in the bathroom and I leaned down to put something in the trash. I didn’t realize I was standing so close to the wall and I banged my face into the towel rod. It gave me a cut right across the bridge of my nose. And just a few days ago,I did the same thing in the kitchen. I tried to put something in the trash and was closer to the refrigerator than I thought I was. Whack-O! Right in the face, and another cut on the bridge of my nose. I had my sunglasses on that time which is what cut me. Yes, being blind means being careful at all times. Getting impatient will get you in trouble every time. I guess that’s kind of true even for sighted people, isn’t it?
I wanted to talk, just for a moment, about the proper way to treat a blind person. Or any type of handicapped person for that matter. Does anybody know the proper way? Here’s an example:
Joni and I went someplace one time, and there was a lady there who said to Joni, “Would he be more comfortable sitting down?” Wrong! That offended me on so many levels I can't even tell you. If you want to ask a blind person a question, just ask them. Also, if a person is blind, it doesn't mean the rest of their body doesn't work right. My ears are just fine, and so are my legs and feet. I know, I know, I’m being too critical. She was just trying to be nice and I’m overly sensitive. All true.
So what’s the proper way to treat a blind person. After all, you probably don’t encounter very many blind people in your daily life and you don’t get much practice, right? Well, you don’t need any practice at all. Just treat them like people. That’s all any of us want isn't it?
Okay, here’s a little practical advice. When you see a blind person coming along, you can give them a little extra room. Sometimes it's fun to hit people with our canes, but then again sometimes it makes us feel awkward. If you want to shake hands with a blind person, reach out and take their hand. You can’t just stand there with your hand out, that makes us feel awkward too. If their hand is on their cane just ask “Can I shake your hand?” I’m guessing most blind people will be agreeable to that. And for heaven's sake, don't try to hide from a blind person. There are always those who will hug a wall and try to be as silent as possible when a blind person comes into the room. We can’t see you, but we can feel you and that’s just plain creepy. And it’s polite to hold the door for a blind person, just as it is polite to hold the door for someone who can see.
I mentioned this yesterday, but it goes along with my topic today so I will mention it again. If you’re really interested in seeing the world from the perspective of a blind person, check out”In The Center of the Roof.” Ro has been blind for a couple of years now, I think, and is a lot better at describing it than I am. She just went through the lengthy process of getting a seeing-eye dog and documented every step which was pretty interesting.
Okay, I’m done griping for today. Everybody who reads this will probably think, "Wow, blind people are really grouchy." I hope that’s not the case. Handicapped people just don’t want people fussing over them or treating them differently, that's all.

Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

John 9:1-3 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."


  1. Well you know what. It was kinda funny at church when we were walking through the tight area, where the pastor specifically said not to stand, gather,and chat, and there were three people standing there and no one could hardly get through,nevertheless a blind person. Your cane went right up her leg and was lifting up her long skirt and I had to smirk when she looked around thinking someone was being fresh with her. "Oh, excuse me." she said. But I couldn't stop smiling.

    I'll try to be more careful in the quiet room as you pass, so you don't get creeped out. ;)

    Remind me to do a post about us sighties, who have to live with our newly blind mates. It might just be an eye-opener. ;)

  2. Ah yes, the bending down and wacking your head. After plenty of times, I've finally learned to always reach out and touch first, before bending down. It's really easy to remember in a strange setting, but so easy to forget at home. I don't know how many times I've wacked my head while cleaning the bathroom. For the most part I'm good about remembering to feel first.

    Today the paratransit driver picked me up and when I couldn't find the door he said, "Oh I didn't know you were visually impaired, they only told me you had a guide dog." Um. Yeah. Ok. It deserves a blog post, but I think I'll do it tomorrow ;)