A Message to Sighted People

My name is Dlan, and I am blind. I have been totally blind since birth. My whole life, sighted people have been trying to help, but they do it poorly. They often do not understand me and do not think of simply asking me what I feel comfortable with when they have tried to help. I don’t need to be grabbed or touched to be helped. I want to spread the message of respect, communication and equality from those with disabilities to people without disabilities. 

Here is how to better help blind people: First, don’t assume blind people always need help. No matter who you are, some people can do things better than others—whether they have a disability or not. The way someone does something may simply look different than how you’re used to seeing it. Second, you can feel comfortable around blind people, but please make sure you’re paying attention to what’s around you if you’re guiding one of us. At that moment, we are trusting that you are making sure we are safe. If you don’t know what to do, just ask. Most of us are happy to answer your questions on how to best give us assistance. 

It’s easier than you think: Ask and listen to blind people. That’s it. It’s very easy to help people who are blind or disabled. Avoid making assumptions. If people approach each other with more communication, there would be more respect. Treating each other this way will set us up for better interactions. I know many sighted people want to say and do everything correctly without offending anyone, but don’t put that pressure on yourself. How can you know what to do without learning first from the person that is disabled? Communication is all it takes. And who knows? Maybe we’d all realize that we’re more alike than different and can build community.