Ways to Respond to Social Interactions

Group of people who are blind and sighted standing together. Present is a guide dog and a person with a long white cane.

Elizabeth Sammons and other VisionAware peers have put together a comprehensive article on Social Interactions as Non-Visual Participants to call out the importance of Zero Discrimination Day.

The article shares personal stories of handling uninformed comments made by strangers in stores, airports, restaurants, and other public venues. This blog summarizes some of the key points.

Interaction Types

Elizabeth has organized them into Interaction types:

  • Ignorance
  • fear or anxiety
  • misguided curiosity, sometimes wrapped in good intentions
  • overzealous offers
  • overbearing pity and
  • avoidance and/or hostility.

Each of these is discussed in depth with relevant quotes from peers.

A Few Tips to Whet Your Appetite

Elizabeth completes the article with tips for people who are blind or low vision to consider when out and about.

  • Expect the unexpected in service interactions; we usually know a lot more about the sighted world than the sighted conversation partner knows about our world.
  • Be prepared to explain how someone can help us without assuming that person can read our minds or know our needs.
  • Use humor to lower anxiety or get the point across.
  • Illustrating capabilities by doing something well can counteract people’s low expectations or assumptions of what we can’t do.

And there are more!  So be sure to read the entire article!

Elizabeth summarizes, “Many things in life require cooperation between at least two parties, and situations involving blindness are no exception. Being prepared mentally ahead of time is the best thing we can do, both for ourselves and for others, to create better interactions not just in the moment, but for times to come.”