Asking Questions Is Not Offensive!


Amina Orzueva, Contributor

Being blind for my whole life, I have realized that a lot of sighted people have stereotypes and misconceptions about blindness. I’ve come to realize it is not their fault. Almost every show or movie that has a blind character always makes them either helpless or with extra senses. I’ve compiled a list of commonly asked questions that I’ve gotten about being blind.
1. Are you hurt after your cane touches an object?
A cane is there so it can find obstacles, so I don’t bump into things. My cane touching things actually helps me, because now I know that an object is there. For instance, when I am outside, and my cane hits a garbage can, I know that it’s there, and I can walk around it.
2. Do blind people count steps?
A lot of people believe that since blind people know where they are going, they must count steps. The reason blind people know where they’re going is because they know the layout of the place and find landmarks near places they often go to. Then, they start putting it together in their head like a mental map. For example, I know that on every floor straight out of Stairway A, there will always be rooms that
have lower numbers. Also, I’ve noticed that next to my Math room there is a bulletin board. To find the room, I walk down the hall, go to the left and after I pass a bulletin board I know that my class is there.
3. Do blind people know sign language?
Since a lot of people know about Helen Keller the famous deaf-blind person, people think all blind people can’t hear or have hearing impairments. I don’t know sign language, but I think it is a great thing to learn!
4. How do you use a phone while being blind?
Most if not all types of phones have some sort of screen reading feature. On an I Phone, there is a feature called VoiceOver that basically reads everything on the screen. I swipe left and right to get to the top or bottom. I double tap to click on something. I know where the letters are because I know the layout of the keyboard.
5. Do blind people watch shows?
Some shows have audio description which means there is a narrator describing the show. Most shows don’t, so I hear the people and the sound effects and know what is happening.
6. Can blind people appreciate art?
Well, there is 3-D art and there are ways to draw pictures that have raised lines. Also, music is a form of art!
7. How do you do work in class?
I have a device that is like a tablet, but it has a braille display. I do all my work digitally, I either submit it in Google Classroom or email it. It functions on my device is limited. For example, I cannot do Google Slides on it. So, when we have to make presentations, I usually use a Chromebook.
8. What could I possibly talk about with a blind person?
There is no specific topic you have to talk about. Do not be afraid to use the words “see,” “watch,” etc. Don’t change the way you speak around a blind person.
9. How do you cross the street?
I stand on the curb cut because the other side of the street is straight ahead. I listen to the cars, when they are in front of me I know that the light is green. When I hear the cars on the side, I know that it is red and I can cross.
10. How do you choose your clothes?

When I buy something, I will ask what color it is. I know what I am wearing because of what the design is on the fabric. For example, I remember that a shirt that says DKNY in the front is a black shirt.

Not every blind person is the same. We all have different strategies on how we complete daily tasks. Before you assume, make sure you ask the person first. Asking questions is not offensive!