At Speed of Sight, we’ve been offering blind people the opportunity to experience the thrill of driving with our incredible track day events for the past 12 years. Throughout that time, we’ve helped many with disabilities enjoy a happier and more fulfilled life as our experiences can help our drivers build confidence, give them a sense of independence and they’re also a tonne of fun too!
But although we’ve done our utmost to provide a platform for our drivers to enjoy these invaluable experiences, we believe it’s important to remind ourselves and each other that there are ways we can all help to make the lives of the visually-impaired that little bit easier.
For those who suffer from visual impairments, even some of the things most of us consider to be simple, every day tasks can pose a challenge, so we feel it’s important to offer a helping hand wherever we can. Here’s are a few tips for achieving that goal.
Offer help in the right way
If you’re looking to offer help to a blind person, be sure to ask them first. If your help is refused, try not to get offended. Some may have had bad experiences in the past which could make them reluctant, while others may simply wish to do things by themselves. It’s therefore important to ask whether any help is needed before assuming, no matter how sincere your intentions.
If you’re offering help, then remember they can’t see what you can, so it’s important to be as explanatory as possible. If you’re assisting someone with crossing the road, for example, try to be clear and precise by giving them all the help they need to do so safely.
Ask them for instructions if guiding
When you’re offering a helping hand, be sure to ask where they want to go. They can give you all the information you need so just ask them for details of where they’d like to go and it’ll make things easier all round. Oh, and remember to try and go slowly and at their desired pace – nobody wants to be dragged around by a stranger!
Say your name when you first interact
For blind people or even people with limited sight, recognising faces can be hard work when you can’t see very well. Even if it’s a face they see all the time, they may still struggle, so it’s always a good idea to introduce yourself with your name when you first meet as it can be really helpful.
Don’t distract guide dogs
Look, we get it, we all love dogs. But while guide dogs may be really cute, stroking them is not only rude and potentially annoying for the blind person, but it could also distract the dog, putting both of them in potential danger. A visually impaired person and a guide dog act as a team, but when something intercepts it can cause problems so please try and avoid this behaviour.
This isn’t to say you can’t offer help to someone who has a guide dog, but if you’re in that position just try and keep your interaction with the animal to a minimum.
Avoid condescending remarks
Telling blind people they’re “inspirational” or “Brave” may sound complimentary, but in reality these kind of statements are condescending and only serve to irritate or offend. People with visual impairments just want to live their lives like everyone else, and constantly highlighting the fact they can’t see very well with patronising remarks just helps to shine an unwanted spotlight on their disability.
We realise that when making some of the mistakes mentioned above, really you’re just looking to help. Just try to remember these points and your help is guaranteed to be much more appreciated, which is better for both you and the person you’re interacting with.
Here at Speed of Sight we believe that regardless of visual impairment or any other disability, everyone should be able to experience the excitement and immense enjoyment of driving. If you’re interested in volunteering or sponsoring our incredible work, then please get in touch with a member of our dedicated team as we’d love to hear from you!