Day to day life is a challenge for everyone at times. At some point we all need help. However helping one person is not the same as helping another person. Everybody has different needs and different skills. Being visually impaired means that I need help with more things than a lot of people. But helping one visually impaired person still isn’t the same as helping another. Even though we all have a problem with our eyes, it doesn’t mean that we all have the same struggles. Blindness isn’t just blindness. Many people seem to think it’s black and white, you can see or you can’t see. That isn’t true at all. There are so many different eye conditions which effect the sight in a variety of ways. Some people can see better close up, but not far into the distance. Some people can see distance, but not very well close up. Some people have no central vision, but can see around the edges. Other people can’t see well around the edges but their central vision is clearer. Some people have it foggy, some people have it blurry and the list goes on! There are some people that have no sight at all, but the majority of people who are registered as blind, do still have a little bit of vision. With sight levels being so varied, this means that we all struggle with different things.
Assuming that you know how to help somebody and jumping straight in and doing it is never a good idea. If you want to help, just ask and let the person tell you how you can help. There is a popular hash tag on Twitter used by the visually impaired community which is #JustAskDontGrab which is something I strongly agree with. It means that if you see somebody on the bus or train for example and they are using a white cane, don’t grab them by the arm and pull them over to a seat. It can be very intimidating and disorientating. Please don’t guess what the person will want, if you want to help in some way, just simply say would you like to sit down? Or would you like any help? If they don’t realise that you are talking to them, just gently and respectfully touch their arm our shoulder to make them aware. Helping in these situations is a good thing and most people mean well. They just don’t go about it in the right way. So please remember #JustAskDontGrab and think about how you would like to be treated.
When my sight got worse, it took me a long time to work out my balance of needs and abilities. This was one of the most frustrating times ever, because it’s not just me who had to learn, my friends and family did too. And I had to be the one to teach them, but how can I teach them what I don’t know myself? It’s one of those things that you can’t explain, there’s to much to explain. You just have to go with it and learn as you go along. It was frustrating when people didn’t help enough. It was frustrating when people helped to much. It was frustrating when they could see that I needed help and I wouldn’t admit it. Eventually we got to the point where we had covered everything. They now know when I need help and when I don’t. The things they can do to make it easier and the things that are just patronising. They are comfortable asking me if they see me struggling and I fell comfortable asking them for help if i am struggling. This isn’t an easy journey at all getting to this point and there are no short cots.
The thing is though, when somebody new comes into the mix, I have to do it all again. Because even though I have figured myself out now, it also has to work with the other person and their abilities. As with before, there are no short cuts. It just takes time, patience and a lot of trust. Eventually it will all fall into place.
xx ❤ xx