Blind Etiquette 101–vocabulary

We live in a society where political correctness has commandeered the English language.  People get all bent out of shape over nonsense… or is it?  I think it depends on who is saying what to whom, and when they are saying it.  As far as the words used for describing people like me, for example, there is quite a selection: ‘Person who is blind’, ‘partially sighted’, ‘visually impaired’, ‘visually handicapped’, ‘visually challenged’, ‘person with vision loss’, ‘legally blind’, ‘with low vision’.  Some organizations and groups ask on forms, “are you a total?” (totally blind).  I personally do not like to be linked with the word, ‘impaired’.  It brings to mind, ‘impaired driver’ i.e.. drunk, and having done an evil deed by choice of action. It is negative and not a good choice of words, in my opinion,   yet I hear (let’s call them Blind) people refer to THEMSELVES in this fashion,  way too often.  It boggles my mind. I try to be consistent, and go with Blind (note the capital, like a nationality), deaf-blind and partially sighted, whenever possible. These are the words that the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians encourage their members (of which I am one)  use,  as well as  their chapter presidents (of which I am one)  when writing advocacy letters and making public statements.  On my own time?  I go with blind… as in “a bunch of blind folks are getting together at…”  There is, of course, as in every group, a humour and lingo used by blind folks.  There are ‘blind jokes’ .  It’s a little like the permissive dialogue available to members of the gay community, or other social community.  I  encourage EVERYONE to make free use of words like, “see you later” or “look at this” when conversing with blind people.  Please avoid saying, “it’s over there” as you point to something.  That, as I have often complained, is totally ridiculous and a bit thoughtless, especially when it’s coming out of the same person’s mouth  time after time.  Regardless of what’s coming out of your mouth, make it audible and clear.  Use the same level of vocabulary and tone that you would with any one else.  I swear, some people are compelled to speak to me and other Blind folks,  LOUDLY and in a SLOW,  SYROPY tone that they would use with children or intellectually delayed people. 

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