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How do you better connect with a blind person in your life and include them more in your world?  Relax and be yourself. Here are some tips to get you going.

Make a New Friend.

Having a blind friend is no different than having any other friend. Once you start speaking openly and doing things together, the rest follows. Ask what they like to do and see if you have any common interests. When making plans, keep location in mind and consider activities near public transportation.  Above all, just be yourself.

Offer Social Assistance.

Social situations are full of visual cues that you can make accessible. For example, when you arrive at a party together, describe the layout of the room, who’s in attendance and what kinds of food and beverages are available. When you grab a plate for yourself, offer to fill one for your friend. Let them know if there are any pets, so they won’t be surprised if something furry joins them on the couch.

Stop the Staring, Whispering, Pointing.

If you’re out and you notice someone staring at you, it’s OK to acknowledge it. You could offer a simple wave or take the opportunity to introduce yourself and your friend. If you are in an intimate setting like a party and you observe whispering or staring, strike up a conversation with the group to break the ice. Help them get to know your friend for who he is – a person who happens to be blind.

Keep Conversations Natural.

When you’re having a conversation with a blind person, there’s no need to act any differently than you would around anyone else. Feel free to use sight verbs and phrases like “did you see that” or “watch out” – blind people use these common phrases as well. Always address a blind person directly and use a normal tone of voice – not slower, louder or childlike. Speak up if you hear someone using an insulting phrase like “What are you, blind?!” Let them know that by using phrases that insult blind people, they are reinforcing offensive stereotypes.

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BlindNewWorld is sponsored by Perkins School for the Blind, where Helen Keller challenged and dramatically changed society’s perceptions of individuals with disabilities. Founded in 1829, Perkins is the leading global enterprise dedicated to advancing the lives of the young blind population through education, accessibility and innovation.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” - Helen Keller

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