I’ve been blind since birth so have come across my fair share of people that have ideas, opinions and attitudes surrounding visual impairment, and various views on disability in general. Some people treat blind and visually impaired people like they would any sighted person, but others do not. Some people talk to us like we are young children, talk to people that we are with, rather than ourselves, or just don’t interact with us at all. Then there’s the opposite, people are too friendly and are over the top.
If you are out and about and see a person with a visual impairment, you may want to help them which is great, but just like sighted people, we don’t always need help…
There are many common misconceptions on visual impairment, such as blind and visually impaired people are helpless, rely on others, and cannot be independent, these outdated stereotypes couldn’t be any further away from the truth. In fact, we live active, fulfilling and independent lives, just like sighted people. However, when out and about, we often come across people wanting to help us even when we don’t need it, it can be frustrating, especially when we are trying to do everyday tasks. Granted, there are times when we do need help or assistance and it’s great when people offer to help us in these situations, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, people take it upon themselves to automatically help us and assume that we need assistance even without asking, if we politely decline their help, it can often leave sighted people feeling annoyed, upset and frustrated. It’s very common for people to shout at a blind or visually impaired person when they decline their offer of help. Think about it for a minute, would you do that to a sighted person? Probably not.
It can also be frustrating for blind and visually impaired people, as we often just want to get somewhere or complete a simple daily task on our own without being interrupted. Believe it or not, we are fully capable of doing this. It is perfectly acceptable for us to not constantly need help, there is no reason for sighted people to be offended about this.
Don’t be offended if we don’t accept your help: just like sighted people, we don’t always need help, we want to complete daily tasks and get around independently just like you do, we don’t always need assistance. Please respect us if we decline your offer of help, it’s nothing personal, but usually, we don’t need any assistance. If we need help, then we will ask.