Sharon and her husband, Bruce, like to walk to their favorite downtown restaurant. Sharon is blind and uses a white cane to travel. In close quarters, she will often take Bruce’s arm for guidance.
One evening, a new waitress came over to greet them. She took one look at Sharon’s cane and dark glasses and directed her attention to Bruce.
“What does she want to drink?” she asked.
Bruce shook his head. “She could probably tell you, if you ask her,” he replied.
“I’ll take a glass of your merlot,” said Sharon, pleasantly.
The waitress flushed, abashed. “I’m so sorry!”
Sharon smiled. “No hard feelings. If I had a nickel for every time that happened…”
“We could hire a personal chef!” Bruce declared.
CHANGE THE WAY YOU SEE
When speaking to a blind person, address them directly, just as you would a sighted person. Avoid addressing a companion on behalf of a blind person – a common practice. If you need to get their attention, try using their name or start with “Excuse me, sir/madam.”
Give your full attention.
When you’re speaking to someone who is blind, act and speak as you would to any person. Facing them will project your voice – an important cue to the blind person that you are speaking to them.
People often raise their voice, talk slowly or take an endearing child-friendly tone when speaking to a blind person, all of which are unnecessary. Just speak in the same manner as speaking to any person.