Things You Shouldn't Do or Say to a Blind Person

Words matter and they have an impact, whether that impact was intentional or not. Many times we are not aware of the weight our words carry unless those words are directed towards us or whether we understand their impact because of the position we are in.

The truth is, we often say things and have no malice in our intentions, but it is important to remember that we can not control the way our words make someone feel.

Here is a short list of some things you should think twice about saying or doing to a blind or visually impaired person.

DON’T SAY: "I don’t know how you do it, I wouldn’t be able to handle that if it happened to me or one thing I wouldn’t like to lose is my sight".

This is a very insensitive thing to say, don't use someone's actual situation to talk about how lucky you are, they are not an example of what you don't want to happen to you.

DON’T SAY: "You can’t do *blank* if you can’t see" (if you genuinely want to know how someone does something, think about rephrasing your question. Maybe ask “Tell me about how you do *blank*".)

DON’T: Assume they can’t feed themselves or dress themselves

A disability is not an inability, it just provides a unique way to do something.

DON’T ASK: "How do you watch TV?"

It is amazing how strong the sense of hearing becomes for the blind or visually impaired. They can follow along by just listening. Also, there are many audio described options available that enhance the experience.

DON’T SAY: "You can’t see, you don’t need to be able to do *blank*"

DON’T SAY: "You shouldn’t get involved in this because you can’t see"

You do not have the right to tell someone what they can and can't do because of their disability.

DON’T: Ignore them. They can answer questions, don’t direct a question about them to another person and ignore them

They are a person, just like you and just like anyone else. Losing your sight does not affect your ability to be an agent for your self.

DON’T: Act out a motion without describing it

DON’T: Use visual communication like nodding or shaking your head

It can be second nature to rely on visual cues, it will take a while to rewire your brain to avoid this, if you notice the person is not following along remember to audibly explain your point or use a physical description on them.

DON’T: Call their cane a stick

DON’T: Take their cane away

Their cane is a very important tool that adds to their independence, it is important to always be respectful. You may think you are helping by taking their cane away and leading them yourself but you're not. Don't do this unless they explicitly ask you to.

DON’T SAY: I wish you could see this

Be kind, be helpful and be respectful.

If you want to help, remember to ask the person if you can before you do.

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