Wednesday, September 8, 2010

You Say, I say! The Blind Etiquette Guide

I am about to address some of the weird, annoying , insensitive & mundane questions/comments I am haunted with on a day to day basis about my blind daughter and myself as a parent. You might be surprised that some of us are not as "sensitive" as you think. Stay tuned after the You Say, I say session for a few rules of etiquette brought to you by my blind daughter Miriam!

You Say, I Say!

1.You Say: "HEY, WATCH IT, ARE YOU BLIND?!" while we are out shopping and some mindless person bumps you with their cart, when you remember I am there you suddenly "freeze" as you give me a pitiful look..

I SAY "It's a figure of speech, I GET IT! But remember how easy it is for the answer to that question to be "Yes, yes I am!"

2.You say: to my child "DID YOU SEE THAT?!" followed by a lengthy guilty apology.

I Say: "Cut the apology and describe to her what you saw so she can get an image in her head and YES she WILL see it!"

3. You Say: "Awwww, she is sleeping!" when you see me in the grocery store.

I SAY "Have you ever seen a child sleeping sitting straight up in a shopping cart or walking down an isle?"

Blind children often have their eyes half closed due to the fact there is no stimulation to keep them open. There is no reason to open your eyes if there is nothing to see.

4. You Say "Wow, your daughter has such beautiful eyes!" only to take it back with an "Oh , I shouldn't have said that!" after finding out she is blind.

I Say "Why yes she does have beautiful eyes. And you know what, they aren't cracked down the middle and she doesn't have pink eye. Pointing out my child's positive features is not going to insult either one of us!"

5. You Say: "I'm so sorry!" after hearing the news my daughter is blind.

I Say: "Why? There is nothing wrong with her!" Blindness is not some fatal disease. My child can do everything yours can do it just takes a little bit more effort.

6. You Say: "I hope it didn't bother you that I didn't invite your kids to my kids party. I just thought it would be so boring for your blind child!" when I over hear you had a birthday party for your little one.

I Say: "Gee thanks for being so insensitive! All of my children LOVE parties, even the blind one. After all she IS a kid just like all the rest!" pfft

7. You Say: "Does she have one of those sticks?"

I say: "No, but she does have one of those CANES."

8. You Say: "I could never do what you do, I don't know how you do it!"

I say: "You do what you have to do. You don't love your child any less just because their eyes don't work."

9. You say: "You should get a second opinion because I KNOW she just looked at me!"

I say: "Gee, I never thought of that! Actually she has not only had a second, but a third and a fourth. She didn't see you, we accept it and wish you would as well."

For the record, constant "revelations" that you think our kid looked you dead in the eye does not help our emotional well being. When we have to convince someone who doesn't even know us that our child is STILL blind it hurts. Do you honestly think we wouldn't love to have our child look into our eyes?

10. You say: "So she is blind, at least her other senses are more advanced than everyone else's, I bet she uses more of them."

I say: "No actually they are just like yours. She just has to rely on them more than you do, hence she becomes an expert at using them. She isn't a dog, she cannot sniff out the bad guy or hunt down a fox & she can't hear 10 miles away."

11. You say: "so she is legally blind right."

I say: "Yes she is legally blind but unlike most "legally blind" people she is totally blind."

12. You say: "Is she going to have to read braille"

I say: "Since that is the only way she will ever be able to read a book since she is BLIND then Yes she will have to learn braille!"

Now for a few "rules" and suggestions from Miriam "Blind and Perfect!":

1. I am not deaf, I am blind. Please do not shout!

2. When I get my guide dog (not until I am at least 16) please do not pet him/her. He is not my pet, he is my companion.

3. Don't touch my cane. It is my eyes, you wouldn't want me to poke at your eyes would you?

4. I have a name and do not understand "Hey you" or "Over here" when out in public. As far as I am concerned you could be talking to anyone.

5. I am blind but I am a person first. Please treat me as a human being.

6. You don't have to say things like "can you tell her" to someone else instead of talking to me. Unless you are speaking a foreign language I understand everything you say.

7. If you are guiding me along, don't just leave me standing there. Imagine you were floating in open darkness all alone. How would you feel?

I use ALL words and am not going to be insulted when you say "see" , "watch" or some other like word. I use the same words everyday!

9. I don't mind being called blind. I am blind, it happens!

When I come to visit you, please say SOMETHING. Don't just yell "come in" then just assume I know where you are.

11. Do not just come grab me if you think I need help. If you want to help, ASK ME FIRST. You wouldn't be too happy if I came up and grabbed you out of the blue!

12. If I am talking to you and you "wander off" I am going to be upset if I am left to talk to myself. Please tell me when you leave, I am not crazy and would rather others not think I am!

13. If you are going to lead me please don't grab my arm. I would appreciate it if you let me lightly hold your arm. It is a lot easier & safer that way for both of us.

14. If you see that I am about to do something that endangers me, please TELL ME CALMLY. And don't mumble or yell, please be clear or I might get hurt!

15. I can play just like any other child. Especially with toys that are musical, talkative, textured and/or scented. But I like all kinds!

16. If you invite me over please pick up your floor in advance. I can usually feel or sense large objects but I have a hard time with small things in my path and my cane might not help me see them.

Always remember that a person is a person no matter what their needs are. Chances are they just want to fit in and not be treated like they have the plague (nor do their parents). Always remember that a cane or a guide dog is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. If the blind can handle who they are you should be able to handle it as well!

May God bless you with new understanding!

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  1. I love this post. What a blessing children are. Your daughter is a very lucky little girl!!

  2. Thank you for sharing this post. It's helpful to know what may be inappropriate behavior. My husband is blind in one eye (as a baby they thought he was going to be completely blind) and I have to remember certain courtesies, because I tend to forget he is. Which he seems to like actually (the fact that I am not constantly thinking about his blindness and just accept him). Like when I am on his left side I need to let him know I am there.

  3. Hi, I'm your new follower from HTBH. Nice blog!


  4. I really appreciate your post. It's given me quite a bit to think about. I plan to share it with my children so they will be better versed to this etiquette. I actually know quite a few adults who would benefit too! :o) Thanks so much for sharing. Visiting from HTBH. Happy Tuesday! :o) Larri at Seams Inspired

  5. Thank you for sharing this. It makes you stop and think about the things you say to people. I have 2 children who have ASD and so take things very literal. You have to be really aware of what you are saying cause they misinterpet a lot of what is said them. I think what you are saying also goes for anyone who has a disability or difference of some sort. We need to start to think of people as people. We all have the same need for love and caring and exceptance and to be understood. Its just sometimes you have to work out in a different way how you are going to meet that need. I just wanted to also thank you for coming by and joining my blog hop.