Thursday, April 14, 2011

Things a Blind Child Wants You to Know

I'm working on a powerpoint presentation for work about what blind children do and don't need. The misconceptions are HUGE. Everytime I see someone look with pity at my client, or raise their voice to babytalk level and tell him he's doing a "good job" I cringe. (What is he doing a good job of? He's walking across the playground. Are you complimenting the other children on their amazing talents of putting one foot ahead of the other?)

These are the biggies:

-I've known many blind people. Not one has asked to feel my face to see what I look like.
-Don't clear the path, they aren't going to trip over everything. That's why they walk with mobility canes. In fact, I walk into way more furniture than they do. And blind children can play on school equipment just like any other child, in fact oftentimes they can do it better. They are more cautious than most children and their movement is more definitive. I've never seen a blind child fall off of a jungle gym, but I have seen a sighted child break their arm falling off of a swing.
-Don't babytalk! Don't infantalize! That only alienates the child. Being blind (or deaf, for that matter) doesn't make someone dumb. In fact, most of the blind people I know happen to have genius IQ's. The last thing they need is for you to dumb it down for them. Let them open their mouths and you'll be the one feeling like a child, trust me.
-Don't help unless they ask. They may not have all five senses, but that doesn't mean someone who is visually impaired isn't capable.
-Don't assume they have no eyesight. Very few people are actually 100% blind. Most people who are legally blind can see shapes, shadows, maybe even colors. They may spot you trying to sneak up on them or see the glow of your cell phone when you get a text message. Again, trust me.

My list is growing as I create this powerpoint... but some of these have been really bugging me lately so I wanted to vent.

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