What You Should do, Written By: Munawar Bijani


Note: This page has not been written for the purpose of offending any group or individual. I am only saying what I would like you to do, and what would make you a better person when communicating with visually impaired people.

• When you are talking to me, I prefer for the person to whom I'm talking to stand either directly in front of me, or to my left. This is because I can hear better through my left ear than my right, and I prefer talking to someone face-to-face, and not in an awkward angle.

• When you are wanting to start a conversation with me or simply say "hi" or something to that effect, don't start by saying: "Hey Munawar, remember me? Who am I?" Please address me by saying: "Hey Munawar, it's..." or something to that effect. I don't want to offend someone if I mistaken their voice for someone else, especially when I name someone your opposite gender! Also, I may offend some by saying: "No, I don't remember you, what's your name again?" or "Yes I remember your voice, but tell me your name again." I don't wish for my presence to offend anybody...

• When starting a conversation and you don't know my name, therefore you have no way of addressing me, stand directly in front of me and just communicate normally. I.E. "Hello, I'm... What's your name?" Extend your hand and, if necessary, come in contact with my right hand, varifying that you are talking to me. I don't like it when someone addresses me all the way across the room... How am I supposed to know you're talking to me if there's a lot of people in the room and you don't address me by name?

• If and when you want to ask me something and you have never talked to me before, please ask me directly. Do not go through a third person. I.E. "Do you know his name?" God I hate that! This issue has also been addressed in the article on my homepage. It is extremely rude to go through a third person when conversing with a visually impaired individual, or anyone for that matter.

Note: These are only my preferences, and not everyone thinks this way. However, the issue about talking to a visually impaired stranger and talking through a third person, as well as "Who am I?" applies to the overall blind community. Never ever ever go through a third person, and stand directly in front, not across the room, when addressing someone whom you don't know. This shows respect for that individual, and you will be looked at with respect if you follow those guidelines.

Although I prefer you reaching out and shaking my hand if necessary, other people may not like you coming in contact with them. Do not assume that they wouldn't mind you touching their hand and offerring to shake it. If the blind individual doesn't respond, do not reach out and shake their hand. Repeat yourself. This will clue the individual that, since noone else is answering, you may be talking to him/her.


I've talked to the sighted community, now to the blind community.

• If someone does start conversation, and you assume that they are talking to you but they aren't and you answer, don't be offended or embarrassed. If you do feel embarrassed when this happens, get over it! It's happened to me a lot especially in high school, but noone ever listens. There's no reason to feel embarrassed when it happens, because of course, we're blind! HELLO! If the person who was addressing someone else besides you hears you respond, it's their duty to confirm: "I'm sorry, I was addressing someone else. I'm... What's your name?" You may find yourself in a little conversation this way as well heheh. Just go with the flow is all I can say.

• I thus far sound like I've got nothing to criticize about the blind community--- well, this impression is wrong; right, keep reading!

One thing which really agrivates me is when disabled individuals (specifically blind individuals) constantly feel sorry for themselves. I don't admire or look up to any one individual who, because he or she is blind or disabled, sucks his/her thumb and sits there doing nothing: "O well, I'm blind, what the hell, I can live off of government money." Nay, it is not a well choice. Yes we are eligible to get paychecks every month because we are disabled but to live off nothing but the money (sitting there doing nothing while the money comes in) is, in my view, a definition of someone who--- don't know, can't say. My point is that people who act this way should not be given any sympathy; we were not made to sit there with our fingers in our eyes and live off the government. It really makes me mad when blind people act like imature, stupid, damned little idiots who've no life whatsoever. Everything's done for them, bla, bla, bla.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying assistance is horrid; assistance is very good. What I am trying to say is that some of us (blind individuals) depend too much on the world to do everything for us. Yes, I know, if I'm asked if I would like assistance in getting to a class, or doing something, I'll take it, no problem! There is a fine, thick, visible, and feelable (mind you) line between getting assistance and treating someone like your slave.

Although assistance is good, you shouldn't depend on it; don't expect someone to ask (although, yes, they may.) If they do, good; if they don't, do it on your own. Do not assume a helping hand to wait for you; there's a good chance it will not be there. When it is there, don't abuse it; although you may ask your helper (most of the time your friend) "Are you busy?" out of curtesy they will, obviously, say "no, it's okay, what can I do for you?" It's important to get a *TRUTHFUL* answer.

I think I've said enough; now it's time to wrap stuff up.
To everyone reading this, don't leave saying "Ahh, assistance is bad." By assisting, I promise you, you will be viewed as very special in the person's eyes to whom you offerred assistance (yes, even if you offerred it, and it was rejected.) That person will think to himself/herself: "Ahh, they offerred their assistance, how nice!" and I guarantee you, the next time you talk to him/her, he/she will greet you with a smile and (maybe) a handshake. So, ask: "May I assist you?" It is then up to the other individual to decide whether he/she needs or wants assistance and thereupon you will receive an answer. It's all up to the disabled individual; you asked, it's his/her decision to accept or reject it. The way I think of it is that if I am asked, the person who asked me is obviously not busy (my taking assistance will not interfere with his/her plans.) So most of the time I do take it; after all, we all need a free ride every now and then correct? :-)