Tag Archives: blindness

The Dos And Donts of Interacting with a Blind or Visually Impaired Person

People come to my blog either because they like my poetry, or due to a post on a subject of interest to them catching their attention. Most of those clicking on this site are unaware of the fact that I am registered blind (unless they click on my “About page and see a photograph of me with my guide dog, Trigger, or they come across one of the few posts in which I talk about my visual impairment).

Not being aware of my blindness means that my readers interact with me as they would with anyone else (which is, of course as it should be for I am not defined by my visual impairment). However, when I meet people in the real (off-line world) I do come across individuals who are unsure how to interact with a visually impaired person, indeed some people are downright embarrassed.

A few days back, I came across this excellent post on “Life of a Blind Girl”, https://lifeofablindgirl.com/2019/06/02/the-dos-and-donts-when-interacting-with-a-blind-or-visually-impaired-person/, in which the author talks about the dos and donts of interacting with someone who is blind or visually impaired. In essence, as the author states, one should interact with a blind or visually impaired person in the same way in which one would interact with anyone else.

However (as the blogger points out) many people do not follow this simple rule. Examples of the behaviour identified by the author (and experienced by myself) include: speaking to the non-visually impaired companion of the blind person rather than addressing the visually impaired person directly, asking personal questions one would not address to a non-disabled person and being afraid of using commonly utilised language such as “see you later”.

In terms of the latter, I have lost count of the number of occasions on which someone has said “see you around” only to apologise to me for using visual language!

As someone who is blind, I use such language all the time and I don’t expect people to avoid utilising it when interacting with me. In fact by employing such language people demonstrate that they regard me (and other blind/visually impaired people) as individuals who are not defined by our disability.

There are too many self-appointed spokesmen who claim to speak on behalf of the visually impaired (and, I would add other groups), who say that one should not employ such and such language. Many of these people are well meaning (but wrong) while a few do, perhaps wish to use disability politics for their own unholy ends.

I commend this article to anyone who has ever felt unsure (or embarrassed) as regards interacting with a visually impaired or blind person.

Kevin

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Storm

out into the rain I dash.
A flash
Of lightening.
The sky, for a moment brightening
And me wondering
Whether I will survive the thundering
As my guide dog’s harness is part steel,
So its really not ideal …

My guide dog needed to pay a call of nature earlier this evening. While I was aware of the rain, I was not cognisant of the storm which suddenly broke overhead. Had I been aware, I certainly would have remained safely indoors! As it was, all ended well.

Meeting Inspiration Again – guest post by Abbie Johnson Taylor

Meeting My Inspiration Again

By Abbie Johnson Taylor

One sunny spring afternoon, I was resting in my recliner, listening to the drone of lawnmowers and whine of weed whackers as my landscapers did their weekly
chores in my yard. Suddenly, I heard a crash. It was a lawnmower colliding with a parked car in my neighbor’s driveway. I know this only because one of
the landscapers, not knowing me, came to my door, thinking it was my driveway and my car.

According to a policeman who showed up a couple of hours later, the car sustained a lot of damage. I gave him the landscaping company’s phone number, and
he gave me his card, saying he remembered asking me years ago if drivers were stopping to let me cross streets with my white cane. I couldn’t believe it.

In the fall of 2002, I was single and living in an apartment complex subsidized for seniors and people with disabilities. A registered music therapist,
I was working in a nursing home. On a day off, I was walking home after my water exercise class at the YMCA. I’d just jaywalked in front of my building
and  stopped to talk to a neighbor in a wheelchair when she told me there was a policeman behind me. I turned around and there he was, on a bicycle.

Where had he come from? Had he seen me jaywalk? Was I about to get a ticket, my first ever brush with the law?

To my surprise and relief, he asked me if I was having difficulty crossing streets because drivers weren’t stopping. I told him that as long as I used
four-way and other intersections where drivers were required by law to stop, I rarely had a problem. I also explained that I couldn’t see well enough to
get the license plates from offending vehicles. He said he would bring up the issue at roll call and rode away.

Now, I was again flustered, even though I’d done nothing wrong this time. All I could tell him was that our first meeting had inspired my first novel.
I should have given him my card, but I didn’t. He probably thought I was nuts and wished he’d given me that ticket for jaywalking years ago. In any case,
we parted amicably enough.

After I posted about this incident on Facebook, someone asked if the story would continue. That remains to be seen. I may never see that officer again,
but I’ll always have the memory of how our first meeting inspired We Shall Overcome. As for the damaged car next door, my landscaper told me his insurance
would pay for it, so all’s well that ends well.

Bio

Besides We Shall Overcome, Abbie Johnson Taylor has published two poetry collections and a memoir and is working on another novel. Her work has appeared
in Magnets and Ladders, The Weekly Avocet, and other publications. She lives in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, she cared for her late husband
Bill, who was totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes. This is the subject of her memoir, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared
for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds. To learn more about her and her books, please visit her website at
http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com.

Faces

Being blind
I find
No traces
Of faces
In the loud
Blank crowd
Which might, my memory spark.

My world is not dark.
I see
The outline of post and tree,
Though I can not see
The individual She
(Other than an outline
I am unable to define).

I recall the feel
Of a girl’s high-heel
And the dress
I felt
(‘Twas more belt
Than dress).

I recollect a caress
(Sometimes meant)
And girl’s sweet scent.
And the click
Of heels
As the clock’s tick
Unnoticed, steals.

I can grasp
Elements of the past,
But I am unable to trace
The individual face.
Though, with my sense of touch
I have much
Done, in love or fun.

Does he take sugar?

Yesterday evening, while out for a meal with my friend Brian, I was reminded of the former programme on BBC radio 4 entitled “Does he take sugar?” The programme derived it’s title from the question posed to the non-disabled companion of a disabled person, as to whether the person with a disability wanted sugar in his tea. The obvious point being that the question should have been directed to the disabled person (not to their companion), as by addressing the non-disabled individual the man/woman posing the question was patronising the disabled person.

To return to my meal yesterday evening. As a blind guide dog owner I have been eating in this restaurant for approximately 18 years. The food is (almost invariably good) and the service (usually excellent). Yesterday evening our waiter was attentive and the food arrived promptly and tasted as a good Indian curry should taste. However the waiter proceeded to address Brian (who is fully sighted/non-disabled) and asked “Is the dahl his”, “is the chicken his”.

The above was most odd as I have (as I said above) been eating in this restaurant for some 18 years or so. I sometimes pop into the place alone and enjoy a quiet meal and on these occasions the waiter in question has interacted with me in a civil and friendly way. It is, therefore most bizarre that yesterday evening he chose to basically ignore me and interact with my non-disabled friend.

To ignore a disabled person and interact with their companion is deeply disrespectful. It is, in effect treating the person with a disability as a non-person (as though they where incapable of thinking and acting independently). In the vast majority of cases those with disabilities are more than capable of answering for themselves and treating them as non-persons is deeply demeaning. There are, of course exceptions to this. For example a minority of people with very severe learning disabilities are not capable of making decisions for themselves and do need others to act and speak on their behalf. However many other people with learning difficulties do live independently and are capable of speaking for themselves and the assumption should always be that an individual is able to represent him/herself unless their exists strong evidence to the contrary.

Some people fear what they have not encountered and this may help to explain why they disregard the person who is disabled and choose instead to interact with their non-disabled companion. More education is needed to drive home the point that those who are disabled are persons in their own right and are possessed of thoughts, hopes and desires in the same way as are their non-disabled peers. I will, I feel sure encounter other incidents of this nature. It is deeply depressing and all I can do is keep my temper and politely request that the person doing the patronising please address me and not my non-disabled friend.

Kevin

Can I ask you a daft question?

Being a guide dog owner brings with it many advantages, (the companionship of a wonderful brindle Labrador/retriever and a highly effective mobility tool being 2 of the most obvious).

During my social and working life I am asked many questions regarding how guide dogs work, most of which are perfectly reasonable. I always answer such queries as its important that people understand the vital role played by guide dogs in enhancing the independence of visually impaired people. I am however sometimes flabbergasted by the daft questions put to me.

I have lost count of the number of occasions when a question along the following lines has been asked, “so does your dog go to work with you?”

I recently came across a variant on the above query. An acquaintance, being aware that I was traveling to Liverpool to visit my mum asked, “so does Trigger (my guide dog) go to Liverpool with you?”

I am known for my dry (some would say sarcastic) sense of humour. Consequently I am highly tempted to reply along the following lines, “no, he will stay in London for the 7 days I shall be in Liverpool. Don’t worry I shall leave him enough food and water to cover my absence. I am, however a little concerned that my home might be rather messy on my return …!”.

I do, however bite my sharp tongue and respond that the whole purpose of a guide dog is to act as a mobility tool. Consequently Trigger goes everywhere with me (the UK Equalities Act makes it an offence for a provider of goods or services to discriminate against a person for a reason related to their disability.

As a guide (or other assistance animal) is necessary to the independence of many disabled people, the Act makes it an offence for restaurants and other establishments to refuse to admit a disabled person when accompanied by their working assistance animal).

I shall continue to smile and patiently explain about the role of guide dogs when confronted by silly questions while, all the time furiously biting my sarcastic tongue …

Launch of audio versions of “Toby’s Tales” by Victoria (Tori) Zigler

I’ve had poor eyesight all my life, and eventually – in my early 20s – lost the last of my sight to the Glaucoma I was born with. So I’m no stranger to those times when people without vision problems were doing things I couldn’t be a part of. Not to mention, those times when tasks people with sight take for granted were difficult – or even impossible – for me to do with my poor, and later lack of, sight.

Sometimes there really is no way for a blind person to do something a sighted person can do easily. But often there is. All it takes is a bit of creative thinking, a willingness to adapt the method used to do it, and maybe some special equipment or tools to make it possible.

Take the screen reader Kevin and I use for our computers, for example. Without JAWS (Job Access With Speech) I couldn’t have written this post, and sent it to Kevin, and he couldn’t have put it on his blog for you to read. In fact, without JAWS – and the fact it makes it possible for us to use our computers in the way we do – there wouldn’t even be a blog for you to read, let alone a post from me to go up on it. Sure, there are still things we need help from a sighted friend or family member to do. But it opens up a world of possibilities for us that would never otherwise have existed. Without JAWS, the day I lost my sight would have been the day I lost my ability to access the internet.

There are similar situations in other aspects of the life of a blind person. From simple things like pairing socks, to more complicated things like the above example using JAWS. It’s something that’s just a fact; it’s just the way things are.

But there are – as I mentioned – often ways to make it possible for a blind person to do things for themselves, or to be included when they otherwise might not be able to be. I explore some of these situations, as well as some possible solutions for them, in my “Toby’s Tales” series.

The Toby’s Tales series is a five book series that follows a little boy named Toby’s efforts to adjust after sight loss. I published the first book as an eBook in 2012, with the other four following quickly on its heals, and later made a paperback version of each book available. Now – with the help of the talented Joseph A. Batzel – I’ve also made them available as audiobooks.

Joseph has done an excellent job of bringing Toby’s stories to life. At least, I think so. If you buy the audiobooks, I hope you’ll agree.

Regardless of the format you’d prefer, if you’d like to grab copies so you can learn about the fears and frustrations Toby struggles with, here are the main places where you can buy the books:

Book 1 – Toby’s New World
Audible: http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-New-World-Audiobook/B074P7FV1M/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/229561
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5519989
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-new-world-victoria-zigler/1113041202
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-new-world
Chapters-Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-new-world/9781476234342-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-new-world/id562790799
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-new-world-tobys-tales-volume-1-unabridged/id1270858515
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-New-World-Tales/dp/1512358908/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tobys-New-World-Tales/dp/1512358908/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Tobys-New-World-Tales/dp/1512358908/
Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-New-World-Victoria-Zigler/9781512358902

Book 2 – Toby’s Monsters
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-Monsters-Audiobook/B074SZ9BJX/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/247103
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5519996
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-monsters-victoria-zigler/1113744687
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-monsters
Chapters-Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-monsters/9781301157921-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-monsters/id574780594
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-monsters-tobys-tales-volume-2-unabridged/id1272267691
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/cka/Tobys-Monsters-2-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512358975
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/d/cka/Tobys-Monsters-2-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512358975
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/d/cka/Tobys-Monsters-2-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512358975
Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-Monsters-Victoria-Zigler/9781512358971

Book 3 – Toby’s Outing
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-Outing-Audiobook/B074W95DRX/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/251587
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5520007
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-outing-victoria-zigler/1113846045
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-outing
Chapters-Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-outing/9781301643264-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-outing/id577001695
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-outing-tobys-tales-volume-3-unabridged/id1273856055
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-Outing-3-Tales/dp/1512359041/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tobys-Outing-3-Tales/dp/1512359041/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Tobys-Outing-3-Tales/dp/1512359041/
Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-Outing-Victoria-Zigler/9781512359046

Book 4 – Toby’s Games
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-Games-Audiobook/B074WCT1W4/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/271594
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5520032
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-games-victoria-zigler/1114302957
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-games
Chapters-Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-games/9781301441082-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-games/id595641562
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-games-tobys-tales-volume-4-unabridged/id1274236264
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Tobys-Games-4-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359262/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/d/Books/Tobys-Games-4-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359262/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/d/Books/Tobys-Games-4-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359262/
Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-Games-Victoria-Zigler/9781512359268

Book 5 – Toby’s Special School
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-Special-School-Tobys-Tales-Volume-5-Audiobook/B0756Q5KB1/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/281507
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5520068
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-special-school-victoria-zigler/1114473423
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-special-school
Chapters-Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-special-school/9781301489220-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-special-school/id600171798
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-special-school-tobys-tales-volume-5-unabridged/id1277169221
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Tobys-Special-School-5-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359335/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/d/Books/Tobys-Special-School-5-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359335/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/d/Books/Tobys-Special-School-5-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359335/
Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-Special-School-Victoria-Zigler/9781512359336

You can also find the books on Goodreads.

Book 1: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15992610-toby-s-new-world
Book 2: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16098832-toby-s-monsters
Book 3: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16127032-toby-s-outing
Book 4: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17209761-toby-s-games
Book 5: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17314257-toby-s-special-school

***~~~***

About the author:
Victoria Zigler is a blind poet and children’s author who was born and raised in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, and is now living on the South-East coast of England, UK. Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, has a very vivid imagination, and spends a lot of time in fictional worlds; some created by her, others created by other authors. When she remembers to spend some time in the real world, it’s mostly to spend time with her hubby and pets, though sometimes to indulge in other interests that capture her attention from time to time. To date she has published 8 poetry books and more than 40 children’s books, with more planned for the near future. She’s also contributed a story to the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II.

Author links:
Website: http://www.zigler.co.uk
Blog: http://ziglernews.blogspot.co.uk
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/toriz
Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Zigler/424999294215717
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/victoriazigler
Google+: https://plus.google.com/106139346484856942827

About the narrator:
Joseph Batzel has a BA and an MA from Brigham Young University in Film and Theater. He is also a professional actor for stage and film for over thirty years. Joseph has over 150 voice- over credits including radio, TV, audiobooks, and animation. He has traveled extensively throughout the US teaching voice over workshops. Joseph is a dialectician and can perform most American regional dialects and most foreign accents.

Mr. Batzel has just joined Deyan audio one of the world’s largest Independent producer of Audiobooks as one of their narrators. He is married to his wife Alice of forty-four years, she is a published playwright and working on her first novel. They have two sons and five grandchildren. He presently lives in Brigham City, Utah where he currently works as an adjunct instructor at Utah State University teaching courses in Creative Arts and Public Speaking.