La Feria News

Caring for the Visually Impaired


Dear Ms. Wolcott,
I have a mother who is slowly losing her eyesight. She is extremely active for her age and this setback hasn’t slowed her down a bit. She wants to be as independent as possible which is very admirable but her friends have voiced their concerns. They don’t know how to handle her or people like her. Are there any tips you can give us?
Mama’s Daughter

Dear Daughter,
When my mother-in-law was alive she used to love going to the mall everyday. She too was legally blind and I’m afraid we took a couple of falls before I got the hang of how to handle her. I understand your friends concern very well. Here’s some tips I learned.

Assist someone by offering them your elbow which means you will be walking slightly ahead of them. They will be able to sense any change in direction this way. Don’t stop at a street curb when you get to one, but hesitate a bit and say “curb” or “step up.”

When introducing yourself and others to a visually impaired person announce your presence first. If others are with you, introduce them, giving their locations: “This is Sue on my right, and Hazel on my left. You may then say, “Allow me to shake your hand.” Always announce your departure to that person even if others stay.

Don’t move anything, not even a paper clip or coffee cup, in a blind person’s work or living environment. If you do, return it to the exact spot.

Watch your voice level. People tend to raise their voices when speaking to a blind person. They are blind, not deaf.

If giving a blind person a seat, place their hand on the back of the chair. If helping them into a car, place their hand on the inside door handle.

You are not being polite or protective when you refrain from telling a blind person that he has egg on his necktie.

If the blind person has a working guide dog, don’t touch, pat or talk to it. While in harness, they are trained to react to humans as just another object to be avoided. Don’t pet the dog without permission, even when it is out of harness and resting.

Irma Wolcott

Irma Wolcott

Irma Wolcott is the owner of Fun With Etiquette. Call her at 956-492-4762 for more information. Website: e-Mail her at: [email protected]

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