Tag Archives: guide dogs

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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Updated Gravitar and profile!

At long last I have updated both my Gravitar and profile. The generic Gravitar has now been replaced with a photograph of my guide dog Trigger and I.

I am often struck when clicking on the Gravitars of bloggers who visit my site, by how many of them do not have links to their blog, social media, etc. This makes it difficult to follow them.

Of course, it is up to individuals as to what information they include on their profile, however, the lack of data may be the difference between a new follower or a missed opportunity.

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.

An Interview With A Difference

I was intrigued and delighted when author and poet Victoria (Tori) Zigler invited my guide dog Trigger, to be interviewed by her own four-legged canine friend.

You can find Trigger’s interview HERE

During the course of his interview, Trigger was kind enough to talk about my poetry (amongst many other things)!

Kevin

Another Day

Yesterday, I took my usual route into work with my guide dog, Trigger. The route to my local station entails passing the Queens Hotel, on Church Road in London SE19. On reaching the hotel, Trigger stopped dead in his tracks due to a large crowd of tourists blocking the pavement. The word ”Achtung!” (meaning attention or take care) rang out and a section of the crowd moved to allow Trigger and I through. I did, however have to say “excuse me” several times as others in the crowd had apparently, not heard their tour guide’s  “Achtung!”.

 

On such occasions I try not to let my frustration show, as I know that we British block walkways when abroad and while meandering our way around this sceptered isle. Nonetheless its frustrating when people block pavements, particularly when they can see a visually impaired person approaching with a guide dog or white cane.

 

My irritation soon subsided when I remembered that the French author, Emile Zola had stayed at the Queens Hotel during its glory days, https://insidecroydon.com/2015/01/08/zolas-exile-in-upper-norwood-and-case-for-two-blue-plaques/

Zola bravely wrote an articl accusing the French authorities of antisemitism for imprisoning a French officer, Dreyfus, (who was of Jewish descent) for providing secret information to Germany. Dreyfus was, in point of fact innocent and was later pardoned by the authorities. However Zola’s criticism lead to the imposition of a fine and a prison sentence. Rather than submit to French “justice” Zola fled to Upper Norwood. (Anyone interested in the “Dreyfus Affair” can read about it here, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreyfus_affair).

 

On reaching my local station, I took the train into London Victoria. On arrival in Victoria I was faced by a number of busy roads and was grateful to a lady who helped me to cross 2 of the busiest ones. We chatted briefly and I learned that her name was Marianne, which made me think of Leonard Cohen’s song “So Long Marianne” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZI6EdnvH-8, but, not knowing my helper well I decided not to mention either Cohen or his song!

 

As I walked along Victoria Street, Trigger suddenly made a dive for the food being eaten by a person who was (I assume) homeless, as they where crouched down by one of the pillars which support the canopy that overhangs a number of the shops. All I could do was apologise! I did, of course feel incredibly guilty as I continued on my way. Trigger should not have taken the food. However whatever was being eaten was at his level and its extremely tempting for any dog (even a guide dog) to help himself in such situations. Also, to be fair to Trigger, given that the food was at his level he may have thought that it was being offered to him.

 

So, all in all an eventful trip into central London!

 

 

 

 

2 Poems About My Guide Dog Trigger

Dog And Ball:


My head full

Of dull
Thought.
Then the ball you caught
And waving your tail
Did derail
My introspection.
How can I suffer dejection
When I recollect your playful snort
And the ball you caught?

Early Morning Walk:


My dog snuffles

and scuffles
amongst the leaves.
He is just there
With no care
For what I think
As I drink
In the fresh morning air.

the 4th of July Is …

4 July is, of course best known for being American Independence Day. But enough of such trivia, for any school child can inform you that today is the day when America broke away from the United Kingdom!

Of far more importance to me than the above, is the fact that, on 4 July 2011, I became the proud owner of my 4th guide dog, Trigger, a beautiful brindle Labrador/retriever cross. Trigger goes everywhere with me, whether that be into restaurants, the office or the pub. I hasten to add that, in the case of the latter, I strongly dislike pubs and it is my four-legged friend who drags me into such dens of iniquity on an all to frequent basis …!

Joking apart, Trigger does a wonderful job and safely conducts me through busy London streets.

Given today’s date, I wanted to share 2 poems about Trigger. The first is entitled “The Hungry Hound”, while the second is called “To My Dog Trigger, Who Lay On My Book”.

“I am Trigger.
My stomach is bigger
Than you think.
Your lunch will be gone in the blink
Of an Eye.
Then away I fly.
Should you ask “who stole my lunch?” I reply
“Nnot I
But, dear reader, I lie …!..
I have been known to eat plastic.
My reach is elastic.
You think your food Safe?
My friend brace
Yourself for a shock
For I will gobble the lot!
Be it ever so hot!”.

You lay on my book.
Perhaps you mistook
It for a bone
And discovering your mistake, left it alone!

You creased it’s pages.
Oh the ages
I took
To write that book!

You lay on my book
But look
I have many more,
And ‘twas entirely my fault for
I should not have left it on the floor!

Dogs have such short lives
While the poet’s work survives
Long after master and friend
Have come to their end.
You lay on my book,
My faithful old mutt”.