Interacting with People who are Blind or Visually Impaired

From a sighted person's perspective:

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.

From a blind person's perspective:

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 white cane or dog guide to walk independently, or I may ask to take your arm. You can ask "Can I help?" or "Would you like a wing (elbow)?".

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.

When I enter a room, please tell me who is in the room. Say "Hi, it's Joe" when you enter a room. Remember that I don't see visual cues, so don't forget to include me in the conversation.

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.