Saturday, February 23, 2019

Etiquette and the Blind

All people we meet need to be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of physical challenges they may face. The etiquette changes with each physical challenge, however. The blind can participate in more activities than one may think. Keep that in mind when socializing or doing business with someone who is blind.

Q. My father has just become blind, and I notice people seem to treat him differently than they used to. Could you give me some advice on how the blind should be treated? - R. V., Dallas, Texas

A. When you are introduced to a blind person he may make a small gesture to shake your hand. Make an effort to find his hand because he can't find yours. Always tell who you are. Never play “Guess who this is?” Use the blind person's name because he can't see that you are directing a remark toward him, say, “Harry, what do you think President Ford will do about oil and the economy?” You needn't raise your voice because blindness and deafness are two different things. If you want to ask the blind person a question address him and not his companion. Sighted persons often ask a man’s wife, “What does Harry like to drink?” Waitresses often make this mistake. 

If you are in a restaurant with a blind person you may want to read the menu to him. He may ask for help in cutting his meat. Follow William Goodman's suggestion in an article for “New Outlook for the Blind”; Unless you are treating, let the blind person carry his or her own check and money to the cashier. Locating food on a plate is often difficult for the newly blind. 

“The Seeing Eye” recommends that if you are serving food at home you think of the plate as the face of the clock, with meat from four to eight o'clock, vegetables from nine to twelve, and perhaps fruit from twelve to four. When you are having a blind person over for the first time, you might show him where various rooms of the house are. Make sure there are no objects on. the floor, which might trip him, and that doors aren't left ajar for the blind person to bump into. You can help a blind person sit down by guiding his hand to the seat and back of the chair. 

If you are helping a blind person walk down the street, let him hold onto your arm just above the elbow. Let him walk about a half a pace behind you. B. lind people can participate in more of your activities than you think. Some blind people go to the theatre and movies, dance, swim, skate, bowl, play board games and cards. Don't avoid a person who has gone blind. Continue to enjoy his friendship. – Maureen Elena Riordan, 1975

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

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