Information for SFL Canada Skiers and Guides
As a blind or partially sighted skier, you will be paired up for the week with a guide. No previous skiing experience is required, guides are responsible and supportive, happy to instruct beginners. You meet on the first night and discuss what you hope to do and how you want to work together. You ski as much or as little as you want. Your guide accompanies you on the trails and is also often available to help out and socialize at meals. All of the sighted volunteers are mindful and helpful, regardless of who they're skiing with.
The blind and visually impaired skiers gain a sense of accomplishment and an opportunity to participate in a recreational activity that allows them to be more active.
You will be paired for the week with a blind or partially sighted skier. The match will be based on mutual ability and other factors. This pairing is necessary to form the bond of trust, communication and clarity that is so important for a visually impaired skier to feel safe and have fun during the week. Some skier-guide partnerships have lasted 15 years, while some guides enjoy the fun of guiding someone new. People sometimes improvise and trade off and there is an opportunity for guides to do some skiing on their own or in groups on the Friday free day or when their skier decides not to go skiing. Guiding is a commitment, but a rewarding one. Guides who share the experience of cross country skiing discover: "The three keys to more abundant living: caring about others, daring for others, sharing with others" – William Arthur Ward
The events are held in Western Canada. All venues are blind friendly. Trails are always double tracked so that skiers and guides can ski side by side. When not held at William Watson Lodge, the event is held in a more conventional resort where accommodations are in a fully equipped hotel with a short bus ride to and from the skiing area each day.
Courtesy Rules when interacting with people who are blind or visually impaired
Talk directly to a blind person, not their companion. No need to bend over or talk loud, just talk normally but don't expect eye contact. After all, blind people are simply people like you and me but can't see. Use words like "blind" and "see" because it is you who have trouble with those words, not the blind person. In short, blind and visually impaired people are people. Treat them that way.
By Annar Jacobsen:
When you meet me, don’t be ill at ease. It will help both of us if you remember these simple points of courtesy. I am an ordinary person. It just happens that I am blind. You don't need to raise your voice or address me as if I were a child.
Don’t ask my companion if I want “cream in the coffee” - ask me!
I may use a long white cane or dog guide to walk independently, or I may ask to take your arm. Let me decide. And please don’t grab my arm. Let me take yours. I’ll keep half a step behind to anticipate curbs and steps.
I want to know who is in the room with me. Speak to me when you enter. And please introduce me to the others. Include the children and tell me if there is a cat or dog.
A partially open cabinet or door to a room, or car can be a hazard to me. Please be considerate.
I have no trouble with ordinary table skills and can manage with no help.
Don’t avoid words like "see". I use them too. I am always glad to see you.
Please don’t talk about the “wonderful compensations” of blindness. My sense of smell, touch, and hearing didn’t improve when I became blind. I rely on them more and therefore may get more information through those senses, but that’s all.If I am your houseguest, please show me the bathroom, closet, dresser, window and light switch. I like to know if the lights are on, so please tell me.
I’ll discuss blindness with you and answer all of your questions if you are curious, but its an old story to me. I have as many other interests as you do.
Don’t think of me as just a “blind person”, I am just a person who happens to be blind.
You see more blind persons today walking alone, not because there are more of us, but because more of us have learned to make our own way.