5 things blind people are tired of hearing
Many people often struggle to know whether something is acceptable or not to say to a person with a disability. This can lead to either being overly cautious, or to saying something that ends up being insulting. The best way to know what is okay or not to say is to hear it straight from the mouths of those that it affects. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at 5 things that blind people are tired of hearing.
1)You can work a computer / phone!?
Assistive technology has gone mainstream and yet many members of the general public still seem to be shocked that those with a visual impairment can use technology such as phones and laptops. Many phones and computers now have multiple accessibility features built into them automatically so that users don’t have to splash out on expensive software in order to use their devices. Despite all of this and the increased awareness of it many members of the general public believe that those who have to use a white cane and are using a phone are ‘faking it’. The truth of the matter is that for many blind people their phones are a life line. They allow them to navigate areas they don’t know well, and lead independent lives with the aid of things like GPS or seeing eye apps. Contrary to popular belief being blind doesn’t always mean that you see the world in all black. There are many different types of sight loss and being registered blind simply means that one has no useful sight left, useful being the most important word.
2)Guess who it is!
Blind people don’t have the voices of every person they have met committed to memory. Many people often assume that those who have lost their sight or who were born blind have heightened other senses. Lots of blind people find this frustrating, as they find that people will often compare them to superheros and expect unrealistic things from their other senses. By demanding that someone ‘guess who it is’ you are essentially playing a game with them, testing how well they know you and the sound of your voice. This can be awkward and embarrassing should they get it wrong.
3)You don’t look blind
Although people think that when they say this it’s a compliment, it is actually not something that blind people like to hear. When this is said to them often a response to this is, ‘what is a blind person supposed to look like?’ Not all blind people have a cane, a guide dog or dark glasses. Many see this comment as evidence of the misinformation and stereotypes about blind people that remain in society.
4)Not talking directly to the blind person
Many blind people feel that they often experience situations in which others are under the impression that because they are blind they must also have a cognitive disability. Many people have reported that often people will talk slowly or loudly to them as though they can’t understand. This is often compounded by the fact that many people have spoken about how people will talk to their guide dog, not them. Many people report this when trying to figure out a bus number, or when asking for directions, with people speaking to the dog not the handler.
5)You’re such an inspiration!
Many blind people find this irritating, as most often the comment comes not when they have achieved something extraordinary, but simply for living their daily lives. Many in the wider disability community express equal irritation, as they feel that there is nothing extraordinary about them doing their normal daily activities. The word ‘inspirational’ is one that is supposed to signify great achievement, something that people can aspire to. Many people feel that the use of such a word to congratulate them on simply walking to the shops etc undermines them, as it insinuates that they are not capable of something that is truly inspirational.
Though often we say things that we mean as a compliment, what some often don’t realise is that our words can come across as patronising or at worst insulting. The key is to listen to what the blind community is telling us that they don’t like to hear, and respect that.