Blind Myths & Funny Stories Part 1: Dispelling Myths

For those of you who read my last post, you will remember that I included a couple of myths, legends or misunderstanding of the blind world, namely:

  • Guide dogs are not trained so that the owner says, “Take me to the shops” and the dog magically knows where to go:  the owner, blind person has to learn the route and then the dog (normally) gets them through their journey in one piece … I’ll come back to this in the next entry.
  • They are not ‘Blind Dogs’:  it’s enough of the problem for the owner to be blind, not the dog as well; they are Guide Dogs
  • Creativity is not restricted to those who are sighted .. it does occur in those who do not have sight

I’d like to share a few more stories and insights that may make interacting with visually impaired/blind people easier, and also help to dispel some of the myths.  So, for today:

Dispelling the Myths

  • Blind people, just like people in wheelchairs, do have a life and personality of their own and can speak for themselves.  There is no need to ask the person with them, “Are they okay today?
  • Guide dogs very much enjoy being given attention, but NOT when they are working.  You can tell when a dog is working because the owner will be holding the metal handle.  When the handle is ‘down’ i.e., lying on the dog’s back they may be approached but always ask the owner first if it is okay.  Be aware that not all owners appreciate their dogs being petted.  Giving dogs attention when they are working is dangerous as they can rapidly become distracted and even stressed as they try to ignore the attention and perform their work duties.
  • Guide dogs have a life outside of work.  Don’t let the raving loonies and animal rights extremists tell you any different.  Owners go through rigorous selection and training where they learn all aspects of care for their dogs (which is more than can be said for the rest of us who can just buy a dog from a breeder or pet shop with no further obligation to undergo any training or even bond with our pooch).  In many cases guide dogs are their owner’s best friend and possibly, only companion at home.  They are exercised, they play and their owners love them.  In fact, I know at least one animal rights supporter who has no idea how to look after their pets!  And before the animal rights people start slagging me off, yes, I do believe that they have a valid place in protecting the welfare of animals … I just thing that common sense often comes third on a list of one to two!
  • Many blind people can do much of what sighted people can do; talk, listen, interact, make friends etc.  BUT they are rarely able to get up, walk across a room of people and just strike up a conversation, mainly because they have to find the people first.  So, rather than expecting them to come to us, why don’t we approach them … they don’t bite (well, not unless they’re really hungry).
  • Blind people often have skills and perceptions beyond, or at least from a different perspective to sighted people.  Check out Andy Bounds, a prolific motivational and business speaker who produces incredibly successful results primarilyas a result of (not in spite of) growing up in a family with a blind mother.  The experience has enabled him to see relationships and human interactions from a different perspective and apply those insights to become an internationally renowned business and motivational speaker. Andy himself has developed severely restricted vision but that doesn’t stop him being one of the most sought-after speakers and trainers today.
  • Blind people don’t automatically have amazing listening and touch sensitivity skills.  These skills are not inherent, you know, you’ve been born without sight so you’ve got super skills elsewhere to compensate.  These skills are heightened through practice and application, and because they are needed to make up for lack of visual information.  More than 90% of our information comes to us through site; yes, more than 90%.  Imagine taking that away and you are left with an awful lot of information to gain through the other senses (hearing, touch, smell etc).  If you want to see a blind person ‘really blind’ put them in a crowded room and try to chat to them with lots of chatter and talking in the background.  It’s a bit like trying to see a plane in the sky as it flies across the sun; there’s just too much other information to detect the detail.

There’s a lot more I could write, but hopefully this little insight helps us all appreciate the difficulties and disadvantages that many blind people face.  So, next time we meet someone who can’t see as well as we can, let’s remember that they are often as keen as us to make new friends, or at least interact with others: it’s just that their disability frequently prevents them from having the chance.

About waywood

Hi & Welcome to my thoughts. I share subjects that are important to me. As you’ll notice, these subjects can be quite broad & varied. I like variety; I like breadth & I like a challenge. I am passionate about helping others overcome their fears, grow in confidence & succeed. Although many people would label me as an achiever, I have battled low confidence, low self-esteem & a couple of nasty, long periods depression over the years. I can’t say, “I know how you feel” but I can hopefully empathise & offer some of the things that are helping me to turn my life around. Please feel free to comment, share & enjoy. Take care, best wishes & keep well Stuart
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9 Responses to Blind Myths & Funny Stories Part 1: Dispelling Myths

  1. Cyndy says:

    How insightful. It’s nice to see people getting “the truth” out there rather than perpetuate the lies and myths that surround things others don’t understand. And just goes to show I should look at my Dashboard more than once every six months. 🙂

    I particularly like that you stressed how a guide dog doesn’t just randomly know where to go and how to get there. I’m asked that all the time about my dogs. Though, I must say before I met other guide dog users and started using a guide dog of my own, I kind of thought the same thing. A lot of people think they know how to cross streets too, and I constantly have to explain the way my girls have been trained – and that at the end of it, it’s more a joint decision between the two of us on crossing.

    Anyway, I’m rambling on, wonderful post. It was a pleasure to happen upon it!

  2. Bill Caldwell says:

    Thank you !!!!
    I am legally blind with a yellow lab Guide named “Timmy” We both thank you for your comments. I have heard all the mis-spoken words and comments from people who arent in the know. It`s not,that their stupid,but very miss informed. I enjoyed your comments. Thanks again Bill & Timmy

  3. Pingback: Blind Phones « Stuart Wood’s Weblog

  4. Brenda Stevens says:

    I like what I am reading.

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