Thursday, January 15, 2015

Leading the blind

I know that voice. I wasn't really tuned into the radio but then I heard James' voice emanating from the speaker with what I think is a repeat of the show he hosts, Editor's Choice, rebroadcast during the summer repeat radio period. With the changes at Radio National, I may well become quite dependant on downloading Editor's Choice.

There was a great little story at the end about a young blind man who was undergoing mobility training, that is getting around by using a white stick. Via information over the years from R, I am quite knowledgeable at what blind people need from sighted people, but here is one, mentioned by the blind man, that had not occurred to me, and it is quite obvious really.

The man spoke of when crossing the road and how he likes to hear that the traffic has stopped, even though the audible signal from the traffic lights indicates it is safe to cross. At times, people will say to him, or maybe even call out from a car, 'It's safe to cross'.  Isn't that so kind of people..........except, as the man said, he doesn't know if they are talking to him or not.

Here are a couple of points, which hopefully still stand, even though I learnt them from R years ago.

Blind people generally don't mind being touched on the upper arm to get their attention when speaking to them, so if you were going to tell a blind person it is safe to cross the road, touch their upper arm and tell them. Better perhaps if they don't seem too confident, offer to escort them.

Now escorting does not mean grabbing their hand or arm and dragging them across the road. Bend your elbow and offer your arm and say, take my arm, once you are sure they want help. They will take your arm and you simply cross the road at a reasonable speed. By them holding your arm, they can read confidence or hesitation and read when to move and when to stop and when you slow because there is an obstacle, such as the gutter. You lead them in a steady manner and let them pick up your body language.

Simple really.

22 comments:

  1. Hello Andrew,

    Well, simple it may be but it is good to know what a correct approach to a blind person is in order to be confident about giving help. Confidence is everything in these situations from both points of view. All is lost through hesitation.

    Talking of the wireless......isn't it wonderful to call it that.........how we miss Radio Four when in Budapest.....

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    1. JayLa, quite so and it is good that you are both confident and act without hesitation. I at times wish I was both.

      While not quite the same, Radio Four is available to listen to over the internet. Nevertheless, it is so simple to just turn the radio on.

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  2. Excellent points. One of my friends is one of those people down-sized from Radio National. Sigh.

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    1. Sorry to hear that EC. I hope they move on to somewhere satisfying.

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  3. I learned that a while ago, when I was working at a place that hired disabled people I often helped the two blind people to navigate stairs and corners to get to the toilets of lunchroom, and once helped another blind man here in the city, he looked lost and people were just passing by him, so I helped him find the taxation office building.

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    1. That is kind River, and I am sure you did it correctly. Looking lost can often incite assistance, whereas pretending you now what you are doing does not.

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  4. Andrew, bling people are everywhe re and helping them is very important..The have a lot problem to live almost normally in the community

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    1. Gosia, it is often things that we don't think of that they have trouble with.

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  5. We can be the most sensitive human beings on the planet and still not know what is the most useful assistance to offer. So thank you.

    People do offer help! Whenever I push mum's wheelchair down Glenferrie Rd, the footpath dips down steeply into each side street and steeply up on the other side. Almost always someone will stop and help.

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    1. That's nice Hels. The area is ever so polite and nice and I would expect nothing less. It isn't necessarily the same everywhere though.

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  6. Simple
    But it needed to be said
    Thanks andrew

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    1. John, I appreciate your professional approval.

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  7. I never know if it might insult a blind person to ask. I wonder. It doesn't hurt though, does it, if they say "no, I don't need help."

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    1. Strayer, I was once on the receiving end of abuse from a blind person who I tried to help, but it was all about his personality, not anything I did wrong. I don't hesitate to offer help.........if they look clean. Oops. I didn't say that.

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  8. Good advice Andrew, don't want to even think what it might be like to be blind.

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    1. Grace, the quality of your photos would decline significantly, that's for sure.

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  9. I think that's an excellent invention that the traffic lights make a certain noise when it gets green ! Those who have a dog are really blessed !

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    1. Gattina, except sometime sighted people hear the sound and start to cross, the wrong street.

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  10. I once worked with a blind man who lived in fear of being felled by the (then) new silent trams on Adelaide's main streets. And sometimes people DON'T help because they're afraid of doing the wrong thing, offending the person or their actions being misinterpreted.

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    1. Red, most blind people have fairly sharp hearing and Adelaide's trams are far from silent. Yes, some people are just reticent, for whatever reason. If I did not know what I know, I might be too.

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  11. Thank Andrew for the mention. ABC Radio is about to launch a pretty comprehensive site with more on-demand audio and relaunch the radio app in a major way by mid-February. Lots more great stories on the way.

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    1. James, it is going to be an interesting year, I think.

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