Help!

“Help!” I get two reactions to that. Some people close to me simply don’t believe me. They know I am a competent human being. They know I have handled myself quite well over the years, thank you. They see me getting the job done but they don’t see the effort that goes into it. How could I possibly need help? I am obviously being lazy. Right?

Wrong! Help me; damn it! I am competent and I am not lazy. Just because I have always been able to do  – and I am still doing – many things very well does not mean I don’t need help.

I am not one to play the poor little girl. If I ask for help, I have a reason. I am not trusting many of my skills these days. If I ask you to read an important paper and make sure I got it right, read the stupid thing!

Thank you. I feel better now.

The other side of the coin is dealing with people who don’t know me and don’t know vision loss. Most of these people are kind and well-meaning. It is just that I don’t need people to grab my arm or – and I admit this has not happened YET – try to cut my meat.

I suspect many of you are having similar problems. People see things so black and white! Either we are blind and helpless or we can function at 100% efficiency. How should other people react to us who are somewhere in the middle?

Vision Australia has a page on how to interact with the visually impaired. Vision Australia suggests people identify themselves and actually ask if the visually impaired person needs help. Now there is a novel concept! They also suggest people talk TO US and not to our companions.

After all, the other people aren’t blind and being visually impaired does not make us invisible! It is just plain rude to ignore us. I don’t think any of us are four years old any more. We don’t need people taking over our heads.

Another site I found has the very long title of: Assisting the Blind and Visually Impaired: Guideline for Healthcare Worked and Other Helpers. The guide was put together for workers in non-industrialized nations but the rules are the same anywhere. The guide suggested the sighted individuals use a lot of communication. They should explain what is happening and talk about the surroundings. How does it feel when everyone else is laughing and you could not see the joke? Guide, don’t pull or push! Don’t leave an interaction without taking your leave. It can be embarrassing to be talking to thin air.  Basically, be respectful!

Many of you are parents. I suspect some of you are teachers. Once again it falls on us to educate. If the help you receive is too little or too much, it is up to you to correct the problem. Tell people the way it should be done. Don’t expect them to stumble upon it on their own.  You know as well as I do, if there are 99 wrong ways to do something and one right way, most people will try the 99 first! Do you really want to endure that? Speak up.

Next: Wonder Woman

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