Interacting With Disabled People #EndTheAwkward

This post is based on the video I did last year for Scope’s End The Awkward campaign, giving advice about interacting with disabled people. Scope explain things far better than I do – I’m just giving my own perspective on things here – so I strongly suggest looking at their website and videos. But I hope you enjoy my post on the subject as well.

In general you just need be friendly and respectful, and treat each disabled person as a person first and foremost, just like you would with anybody you meet. Don’t make assumptions about how they feel or what they can do, be tactful about any questions you ask so you don’t get too personal, and offer to help instead of forcing it on them. And don’t worry if you do make an innocent mistake. These things happen. Nobody’s perfect, and nobody’s expecting you to be. We do understand if you feel awkward around us – all we want to get across is that you don’t need to feel that way. 🙂

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The VIP Daily Living Tag

There’s a new Visually Impaired Persons Tag doing the rounds at the moment, initiated by My Blurred World and Life of a Blind Girl, and Fashioneyesta has also responded to it at the time of writing. They’re all superb posts by superb bloggers, so they’re worth checking out. Although I’ve not been tagged myself, I’m going to jump on the bandwagon and join in anyway, as I do think they’re great questions. So hopefully nobody will mind. 🙂

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Driving Home For Easter

Because of my sight problem, I get taxis to and from work, the cost of which is subsidised by the Access To Work scheme (I still pay a chunk of each fare myself, and I’m happy doing that). Access To Work have also paid for the magnification software and CCTV video magnifier I use in the office. It’s such an important scheme, as it really helps disabled people in the workplace. It’s certainly helped me for about a decade now. I suspect not all employers are aware of its existence however, and there are probably some disabled people who don’t know about it either. So it’s worth noting that it’s there.

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VIP Tag

While looking around Youtube channels and blogs by other visually impaired people, I’ve seen the VIP (Visually Impaired Person) Tag come up numerous times. And thanks to the wonderful Emily Davison from Fashioneyesta, I was finally tagged to do it.

It was originally created by Chatty Chelby, and it’s an interesting way of telling the community about yourself. So I’ve put my answers together in this post, and have also produced a video version too. I hope you enjoy my responses!

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Guide Dog Access Denials

I don’t have a guide dog, because I can see well enough not to need one. But I have many friends who do use them, and I would certainly consider applying for one if my sight ever deteriorated to a level where it might be useful. They are the most beautiful and amazing animals, and I have a lot of respect and admiration for them, and for those who train and use them. They aren’t just pets, they’re a real lifeline to their owners, enabling so much freedom and independence.

And yet, sadly, there are still people out there who don’t understand or respect guide dogs or the blind people who need them – something which has, yet again, become clear in the past few days.

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No Offence

One of the things that some non-disabled people find surprising about me is that I’m not easily offended, and that I’m more than happy to make jokes at my own expense. I touched on that point fleetingly in my previous post, but I wanted to go into it a little more.

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The Language of Visual Impairment

Today, through a link on Facebook, I saw an old blog post called Mind Your Language on the Action for Blind People website. It’s an interesting analysis of the type of language used to describe people’s disabilities.

I personally describe myself as ‘visually impaired’ or ‘partially sighted’, as it succinctly describes what I am (and I am registered as ‘partially sighted’ with my local council).

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