Communication Strategies: Talk between people with and without visual impairments

Talk between people with and people without visual impairments can be made a lot more comfortable by following a few simple suggestions (drawn from a variety of sources: www.cincyblind.org, www.abwa.asn.au/, www.mass.gov, www.ndmig.com, and www.batchelor. edu.au/disability/communication). A few general comments first: People vary greatly in their visual abilities; some are totally blind, some are partially sighted, and some have unimpaired vision. Ninety percent of people who are “legally blind” have some vision. All people, however, have the same need for communication and information. Here are some tips for making communication better between those who have visual impairments and those without such difficulties.

If you’re the person without visual impairment and are talking with a visually impaired person, generally:

·         Identify yourself. Don’t assume the visually impaired person will recognize your voice.

·         Face your listener; you’ll be easier to hear. Don’t shout. Most people who are visually impaired are not hearing impaired. Speak at your normal volume.

·         Encode into speech all the meanings you wish to communicate. Remember that your gestures, eye movements, and facial expressions cannot be seen by the visually impaired.

·         Use audible turn-taking cues. When you pass the role of speaker to a person who is visually impaired, don’t rely on nonverbal cues; instead, say something like “Do you agree with that, Joe?”

·         Use normal vocabulary and discuss topics that you would discuss with sighted people. Don’t avoid terms like “see” or “look” or even “blind.” Don’t avoid discussing a television show or the way your new car looks; these are normal topics for all people.

If you are a person with visual impairment and are talking with a person without visual impairment:

·         Help the sighted person meet your special communication needs. If you want your surroundings described, ask. If you want the person to read the road signs, ask.

·         Be patient with the sighted person. Many people are nervous talking with people who are visually impaired for fear of offending. Put them at ease in a way that also makes you more comfortable.

·         Demonstrate your comfort. When appropriate, let the other person know that you’re comfortable with the interaction, verbally or nonverbally.


pravin cumar said...

Very good post..Can you please tell me,should we avoid talking about colors to a visually impaired person?

Axel said...

I’m really lucky and so glad that after surfing the web for a long time I have found out this information. .

Anonymous said...

I am a sighted person interested in a blind guy since the past many years. I tried everything to get closer to him as heard that blind people don't trust others easily. I invited him out for coffee, to discuss business plan etc,no reply. So I calmed down and stopped chasing him.
Recently, I contacted him again when a friend of mine told me that she saw him in town. I contacted him on facebook as he is in my friends there, to go somewhere for coffee. And after two three messages he replied back and we agreed to meet at a cafe. I was looking forward to the meeting, but was so nervous that he don't know what is in my heart,and what if he doesnot like me. Anyway, he stayed for coffee and after an hour asked for leave as he had to finish some work. Later on around 6pm I text him to let him know that I enjoyed the drinks and suggested that it would have been better if we stayed longer to know each other more. I got reply from him next day in the morning that he enjoyed it too and that he is going to another city to collect his documents!!
I discussed this with my friends and all of them said that it seems he is not interested and that I stop any further contact with him to avoid any more humiliation. My point is that maybe he was not comfortable with me as it was the first time we met each other personally and that I should try and contact him again.
Despite my friends advice I sent him a message on facebook again asking about his trip etc. No reply yet. I want to ask the other people who are on this forum what should I do now? Whether I keep on contacting him and asking him out or just drop the idea considering maybe he is not liking me?
please help, this is something very important for me.

JoeDeVito said...

Dear Sasha—
Your question is not an easy one for me to answer and in fact not an easy one for anyone to answer. I’m not an advisor; I’m more of a reporter, trying to talk about some of the concepts and ideas of communication. However, I don’t want to dismiss your question because it’s obviously one that is very meaningful to you and one that I’m sure many people have, though perhaps in different forms. I just wish I was better equipped to offer advice. But, I don’t know you or him and so, lacking such important information, I won’t offer any specific advice.
But, I will offer what I call meta-advice—advice about advice. And that advice would be to seek the advice of people who know you and him and have an understanding of the dynamics and psychology involved. For example, you seem to attribute the relationship not developing almost entirely to your being sighted and his being blind. But, this may not be the case. There may be other reasons why this relationship has not taken off and these more qualified people might be able to point out what these other factors might be (if, indeed, there are other factors).
The other bit of meta-advice I might offer would be to consider the advantages (and the disadvantages) of talking with him and learning more about his feelings. That is certainly not an easy thing to do especially for someone who is shy. But, if you find the advantages outweigh the disadvantages and you decide to talk more directly about your feelings, you might consider asking yourself a few questions about your communication options. For example: How open do you want to be about revealing your feelings? How directly do you want to do this? And what exactly do you want to say? And you’ll also have to consider the options you have for how you’ll communicate this—through e-mail, Facebook, phone, face-to-face in the coffee shop? And you might combine these two bits of meta-advice by asking these more qualified people how they think you should answer these very questions.

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Jack Turner said...

Happy to read this post! Of course, there is a communication strategy exists but we never follow that. Making communication randomly is not the way to talk. Glad to find this blog! Really lots of valuable info to learn! These thing should be taught from the very beginning of school or nursery standard. Also there are few schools and institutions, those following the same strategy for the betterment of students and it is reasonable to learn. Thanks a lot.

speech impairment said...

Very informative article. Looking forward to more posts in near future.