Ten Tips For Low Vision People

Editor's Note.
Nope.  I did not come up with these but copied this off the blind-x mailing
list so don't blame me.
End of Editor's note.

Having directly experienced many of the following situations, we
would like to share our tips on avoiding embarrassment with others. We will
also give invaluable advice on how to cope with
these every day occurrences. So, in no particular order, here are our  top
ten tips:
1. Sitting in someone's lap.
When using public transport be very careful not to sit in someone's  lap.
Now I know the upholstery of the seats is often similar in shade  to
people's clothes but this is really no excuse. This kind of  familiarity
with strangers should be reserved for the up coming  Christmas party season.
If you do still make this social faux pas,  you will of course have a good
excuse but you will feel very red in  the face for the rest of the journey.
However, you will brighten up  all the other traveller's days, as it will
appear to them as a very  funny error indeed.
2. Putting things in your mouth the wrong way round.
My fiancÚ has done this with a pen; I've done it with a cigarette.
Not to be recommended; it put me off fags for life. With regard to  putting
anything else in your mouth, just make sure it's clean.
(you've very smutty minds you know).
3. Talking to people who aren't there.
I've done this many times; its no good pretending you've gone mad and  that
you meant to talk to an empty chair, people won't believe you.  Best just to
admit you've made a mistake here.
4. Calling someone by the wrong name.
How many times have we all gone up to Sally's desk in accounts and  asked
her "Would you like to come out for a drink with me tonight"?  only to find
that Brian is sitting in Sally's chair. This simple  mistake can lead to all
sorts of trouble. Worse still is if your  telling Sally what a total gimp
you think Brian is only to find that  Brian is either present in the room,
or STILL sitting in Sally's chair. My advice here is to keep your insulting
comments to yourself  until you know for sure that Brian has gone.
5. Mistaking people for inanimate objects.
I did this quite recently in Amsterdam airport. I was sitting 2 or 3
seats away from what I assumed was a dustbin. The thing was very  still and
looked remarkably like one of those flip lid bins. Keen to  assert my
independence, I rose, walked over, and tried to put my  empty can of Pepsi
into a man who was holding a newspaper. This  hideous moment passed off with
out physical injury to me or Mr. Newspaper but I felt very silly,
particularly as I had walked over to  him with out my Cane and so probably
seemed to be sighted. He must  have thought he was being attacked by a
Pepsi-can-wheeling nuttier.
6. Answering questions not meant for you.
This could happen to anyone of course but the visually impaired are
particularly prone. If, in a nightclub, someone asks "would you like  a
shag" and you answer "Yes please", then, depending on how drunk you both
are, this mistake might just work to your advantage. However, as  the
question was actually intended for your friend sitting next to  you, it is
more likely that you will just end up looking foolish. The  answer I find is
to insist that every one you come into contact with  uses your name when
addressing you.
7. confusing shoppers.
Ever asked a shop assistant for help only to find you've asked
another shopper if they can show you where the K.Y. jelly is kept. If  you
are not obviously blind, the person concerned is going to think  you are a
crazed loon! Always best to go to the counter and ask.  Which reminds me, I
once had to ask a shop assistant in Boots to show  me where the condoms
were. Even though I had a white Cane, she shyly  told me that they were
"just over there sir". Well, having conjured  up the nerve to ask where they
were, I wasn't going to be put off by  this vague answer so I asked her to
show me where exactly they were.  She did this, perhaps a little unwillingly
but then of course I had  to ask about what sizes they had. By this point, I
don't know who was  more embarrassed, me or her. Anyway, I obviously ended
up with some  jumbo sized Durex and was pleasantly surprised to find that
when used, they smelt of strawberries and bananas.
8. Those confusing little sashes of stuff you get given with fast
food. Once, back in my college days, I shared a lovely KFC dinner with a
room full of fellow new students, none of which new me. Convinced I had the
Tommy Ketchup sashes in my hand, I ripped the corner and proceeded to pour
the stuff over my chips. It was very stubborn and simply refused to leave
its paper container. It wasn't until some minutes had passed and a lot of
strange looks had come my way that I realized I was trying to dispense a wet
wipe on to my fries.
9. Mistaking mother-in-law for wife.
Don't worry, it wasn't quite that bad; I mean I might be blind but I can
still tell a 30-year-old woman from a 55 year old one. Mother in law was
round our house but sitting in a place she wouldn't usually sit. My wife was
in the room but you know, I just got a bit confused. I sat down on the floor
beside who I thought was my wife but, well, I got it wrong. I started
fondling my mother in laws thigh. Luckily, she's a good-humoured old dear
and took it well. I think she quite enjoyed it actually.
10. Jumping out of your skin.
What's more embarrassing than someone quietly coming up behind you and
making you jump by simply asking if you'd like a cup of coffee? To them you
look like a total nervous wreck but in fact you just didn't see them coming.
The only answer to this is to insist that everyone you work with wears play
bells just like guide dogs. I've suggested this at work but for some reason
they are resisting my request.
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