I’m becoming more and more aware of something some sighted people tend to do because I’m legally blind. I don’t think they even realize they do it. They probably don’t know just how annoying and uncomfortable it can be. It’s a “touchy” subject, but I suspect I’m not alone on this one.
I’ve noticed that Some people feel the need to “poke” or “draw” on my arm, hand, or leg with their finger to further describe something during a conversation.
Also, some people feel the need to grab and forcibly pull my hand (or hands) towards something so I will better understand where it is and/or what it feels like.
And then, there are some people feel the need to grab me by the shoulders with both hands and spin me around to point me in the direction I asked to go.
For. the. love.
It’s annoying and uncomfortable.
I have personal boundaries just like you.
Please use your words, not your hands.
Not to sound like a bitch or anything – but, didn’t your mother or kindergarten teacher tell you to “keep your grimy little hands to yourself”? It’s a simple concept and one that should be easy to understand. Especially as grown adults.
I’m pretty sure there are at least a billion or so words in the english language to choose from. All you have to do is string a few of them together to form a sentence that describes a person, place, or thing, and speak. Have you heard of “audio description”? The key word there is “audio”.
When I was a young girl, my friends and I used to play a game. We would take turns drawing simple images with our finger on the back of each other’s shirt. One kid would have to guess what the image was as it was being drawn on their back. Hey, we didn’t have cell phones back then – so, we had to make up our own entertainment. If you grew up in the 70s – you get it, right? Anyway… We had to use our imagination and visualize the image the other person was drawing on us. Yep. Oodles of fun as a kid. But now, as an adult, not. so. much. I would prefer that you speak to me, not draw on me.
Since losing my vision, I’m the first one to reach out to touch and feel something. I’m like a naughty little toddler that has to touch everything! Just ask my kids after a trip to Target – they would agree! I use my hands to gather the tactile information I can not see. I might feel an object or the surface of something for size, shape or texture info. I might feel around on top of a table or countertop to find something – like a glass, a bowl, my phone, or a cork to a bottle of a fine cabernet, etc. etc. And you guys, I might have, just maybe, mistakenly felt up a live human or two. I mean, is it a human or a mannequin? The struggle is so damn real!
I need you to understand that my hands serve as my eyes. Notice how I use the word “MY’? Yeah. MY hands, not yours. Grabbing and putting my hands to place them somewhere or on something is not ok with me. Me, myself, and I, will use my own hands as I SEE fit. (No pun intended!) I would prefer that you speak to me, not man-HAND-el me.
And lastly, if I ask which way something is located, I want directions. Please suppress the urge to grab and spin my whole body around until I am facing the direction I want to go. I’m all for fun and games, but most likely this is not the time!! I would prefer that you speak to me, not spin me. If I’m not understanding you, then for sh*t sake, offer up your elbow and guide me!
As always, I am so thankful that you all do what you feel you need to do to describe and show me the things I can not see. I really do. It is not my intention to discourage anyone from offering assistance to me, or to any other person with a disability. Nope. But. for. the. love… try to resist poking, drawing, grabbing, pulling, or spinning me for descriptive purposes. It’s usually not necessary, or appreciated without my consent. Please use your words. Lots of deliciously descriptive words. Because quite frankly my dear, I’m not a fan of your hands!
P.S. I don’t speak for every legally blind person here. So, if you don’t mind the whole touchy-feely-pokey-grabbing-spinning thing — well, to each his own! xx