Friday, May 8, 2015 -- The Eastwyck Low Vision Support Group met this week and discussed how members deal with explaining to strangers, friends and loved ones about their vision loss. All agreed that often times this conversation can be challenging, recognizing that it is difficult to explain what they can see and cannot see.
For many people who lose their vision later in life, it can be a difficult adjustment. Each person’s vision loss is different. Although it may be difficult, it is important to remain active and engaged in favorite activities. Friends and family members can be supportive by helping their visually impaired loved ones remain engaged and search out helpful resources. Sometimes this change is an opportunity to explore new activities that might be meaningful.
Because many people with vision impairment do not “look” like they have low vision, others with good vision often times forget that their friend has vision difficulty or maybe they don’t even know. Often times many find it difficult to ask another for help when they need it. Attendees discussed how important it is to advocate for themselves; helping others understand what they can and cannot see and what can be helpful for them. Helping others understand their vision limitations can help promote independence, as well as help others be appropriately supportive. Most people want to be helpful if they know what is needed.
Here are some thoughtful considerations for people with good vision when interacting with someone who has low vision:
- Identify yourself. Don’t assume that a visually impaired person will recognize your voice.
- If you would like to assist someone who is visually impaired, always ask first. They will let you know if your help would be appreciated.
- If your assistance would be appreciated in traveling, offer your arm to escort them. Do not hold hands or push. And never touch a guide dog or a white cane.
- Use the clock face as a reference to give a person orientation to things around them, on their plate of food or items on a table
- Avoid unnecessary touching. Touching a person who cannot see/see very well can be disconcerting. Always announce what you would like to do, such as shaking a hand or giving a hug.
The Northeastern Association of the Blind at Albany(NABA) facilitates the monthly meetings and is available to provide suggestions and instruction about being thoughtful when interacting with someone who is blind or visually impaired. www.naba-vision.org
The meeting closed with agreement that the next meeting will be June 1st at 1 p.m. The group will not meet in July and August. The public is welcome to join the meetings.