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5 Questions You’ve Always Wanted To Ask A Blind Person: ANSWERED!

Over the last several weeks we asked our social media followers on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn to share the most curious questions they have about living with blindness. We had so much fun seeing the questions roll in and even more fun having our employees answer them. At Industries for the Blind, we are as much about providing support to the blind community as we are about keeping the sighted community informed. Here are our top five favorites, plus a bonus question – just for fun:

1. Do people who lose their sight later in life have the ability to learn Braille?

Absolutely! Although it can be difficult to learn these types of skills as you get older, it’s definitely possible. I know several people who have read print all their lives, lost their eyesight and become fluent in Braille. From what I’ve observed, learning Braille becomes easier as a person comes to term with accepting their blindness. A love of reading and positive attitude goes a long way in the process.  – Steve Heesen, inside sales associate

2. What is the right way to guide someone who is blind?

The first thing someone should do when guiding a visually impaired or blind person is to ask them, “Can I help you?” If they say yes, as how you can help. Never grab an arm or elbow without asking first! When given permission, it’s best to grab the elbow. This way we are able to move differently under different circumstances such as going up stairs or passing through a narrow space. It also helps to describe the surroundings, which not only helps us in the moment but in the future if we return to the same area. – Jeana Angelini, production supervisor

3. Do blind people have any sensation of light or color?

Many blind people have some sensation of light and color. If a person is completely blind, they don’t see anything but if there is some usable eyesight, they will have it. – Steve Heesen, inside sales associate

4. What type of assistive technology do blind people rely on the most?

There are two general levels of blindness – complete blindness or visual impairment. Both groups use different types of assistive technology.

Those who are completely blind rely on:

  • A computer screen reader called, Job Access With Speech, or JAWS. This program gives blind people the ability to browse the internet, create documents in Word or Excel, manage computer networks and program applications.
  • A scanner, along with Kurzweil software is heavily relied upon to read mail, magazines or any other printed material.
  • A money reader is used to differentiate between a one dollar bill and 100 dollar bill.

Those with visual impairments rely on:

  • A software program called, ZoomText that allows them to utilize their partial sight. With this program they are able to magnify text on a computer screen to read it.

Both the blind and visually-impaired are able to use smartphones for email, internet and many different apps. – Tony Creapeau

5. Do blind people completely trust their service animals?

Absolutely! One of the fundamental parts of the training with your guide dog is learning to completely trust the dog with your safety. The bond between a handler and their dog is one built on mutual love and trust. – Me (I love my dog, Valla!)

Bonus: How do blind people pick out what clothes to wear?

When I shop in a store, I shop by touch. When I come across a piece of clothing that appeals to me, I ask whoever I’m shopping with to explain the color and design to me. When I shop from my closet, I feel the texture which indicates what color the item is. I am able to decipher based on how it feels. Most of my clothes are neutral colors so many of them match. If I purchase one item in two different colors, I will clip the corner on one of the labels to indicate which color it is. This helps with memory identification. Of course, when it comes to the many t-shirts I have lining my dresser drawers, I cheat and ask my husband! – Diane Spantikow

Follow us on our social media channels for regular updates on life in the blind community, what’s happening at IB Milwaukee and much more. In addition to the channels listed above, you can also find us on Pinterest. We look forward to connecting with you!


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