21 Questions You’ve Always Wanted To Ask A Blind Person (And Their Answers)

Courtesy of Reddit user thetj87.

Cubaser: Do you dream with sight?

thetj87: This is probably the question I get most frequently. I dream in the same way I experience things in my waking life, using sound and touch primarily to create images which I assume my brain proccesses in similar ways to how yours processes images.

saltyfood: How do you read these posts?

thetj87: I use a program called Jaws for windows whicn reads the text on screen and have the keyboard memorized. Jaws is one form of screen reading software.

Jepaco95: Do you understand what colors are? Or are they just impossible to understand without sight? I’ve always wondered this.

thetj87: Personally i usually associate colors with concepts. Sure this is very simplistic but it helps–ie. red= fire, blue= water, white= snow, brown=mud. It gives me some ground to work from. Of course the comparison of brown to mud was challenging due to also knowing i have Brown hair, and would like to think my hair isn’t similar to mud.

Tippx: How did you learn the locations of the keys on a keyboard, and how to spell? Also, Are you aware of the requirement that drive through ATMs have Braille keypads? are they for the blind drivers?

thetj87: I actually had a “technology teacher” in elementary school who insisted all his students learn to type with out the ability to see the keyboard, so that was benefitial. I suspect that the drive through atms are just regular atms anyway. Funny enough in a lack of logic, the atms with braille in general are not actually usable by the blind as there is no method for them to know what’s on screen. there do exist talking atms, which have no braille on them.

Captainpanda55: Do you ever find people are more condescending to you as a result of your condition?

thetj87: Yes this is something I experience pretty frequently. Often I find that people expect me to have much more limited capabilities, due to my blindness. Freequently if I’m out at a restaurant the server will ask who ever i’m with what i would like rather then asking me as somehow blindness means I will be unable to communicate to them my desire.

tsukflower: Do you use porn? have you been to sonicerotica.com?

thetj87: Adding this to the list of things to check out. You all have been pretty helpful in cluing me in to interwebs things I didn’t know about. thanks!

Nineteenthjester: What’s the hardest part about being blind?

thetj87: Most likely getting people to move beyond their own preconseived nottions and expectations of a blind person.

insertcreativeunhere: Can you cry with your condition? If not what do you think it would feel like to cry?

thetj87: I can cry but can’t create proper tears. But my eyes go through the motins as if they were going to.

xThefromanx: Have you ever tried any hallucinogens? Just wondering what this would be like without sight. Merry Christmas! or Happy Holidays if Christmas isn’t your cup of tea.

thetj87: As with most things of this sort, marijuana has different impacts on different people, I’ve not really messed with much in the way of drugs, but have smoked marijuana and once had a really interesting super-sensory experience where I could hear and feel every detail of everything around me. I could hear the people around me as they flexed their hands, arms, legs what ever, the fabric of their clothes as they moved, what every was in their pockets as it crinkled. I got on a train and could feel every turn in slow motion. it was an absolutely insane and sort of frightening experience. There were moments I talked to people and could hear things that weren’t really audible — like how nervous, angry, upset, what ever they were.

GoodNewsNobody: Have you managed to remember what a few things look like because of the months you had of sight?

thetj87: At eleven months of age, there’s really very little processing going on and doctors were never sure if I could see anyway, that was just when it was diagnosed.

DeltaStasis: What is some of your favorite music?

thetj87: Music’s in many ways a central part of my life. I’mm most in to alternative, indie and punk rock, but am all over the map.

Creakier: What’s the reason you are blind?

thetj87: I lost my sight due to retinal cancer.

skaboss217: Could you fall sleep with your eyes open?

thetj87: One of the coolest parts of being blind has been the ability to fall asleep in meetings or during classes and it be impossible for others to know as I don’t close my eyes as I have no need to.

AlfredJKwak: But blind people need to blink their eyes the same way people with sight do, right? To keep the eyes clean and moist to keep it from drying out?

thetj87: Not in the case of a person with prosthetic eyes.

NotTomPettysGirl: How do you recognize people? I work at a large high school and worked with a student last year who is blind. I want to say hello to her, as I would with any other student, when I pass her in the hall, but I suspect she might not realize who I am. Are you able to recognize voices well, or do the people you encounter infrequently need to remind you of who they are when you meet them?

thetj87: This is something I wish I were better at. I can identify voices of people I see pretty regularly, or people with distinct voices, but there are other blind people who have the auditory version of photographic memory (recorder memory?) and can hear a person once and remember them, so it totally depends — you should say hi, worst case she asks you to remind her who you are, I suspect she’d appreciate the gesture all the same.

an_illiterate_ox: Whenever I see someone with a red tipped cane I feel like I should ask if I can help take them anywhere. In general do you think most would rather be left to take care of themselves or if it really would be an appreciated gesture to at least ask? Do you or have you ever used a seeing eye dog? Do you or would you prefer the dog to a cane? Thanks for the AMA.

thetj87: It’s hard for me to guess what most of anyone would like, however in my experience, and at the very least myself, if I need help or assistance I’ll make it known by asking.If they seem comfident and are moving they most likely are doing just fine. if he or she are standing in the middle of the road looking lost, then perhaps you should offer assistance, best bet is to just think of them as any other person. Were you to see someone looking around them madly, or staring at a map, you’d assume they were lost. Think of blind people the same way.

magicomplex: In the toilet, we rely on our vision to check the color of the paper two know if we are already clean or we should still use more toilet paper. How blind people manage this?

thetj87: Be obsessively thorough–just keep wiping til you’re sure.

ProfessorGhetto: When you navigate the city, do you look (read: feel?) for certain land marks which allow you to stay on course?

thetj87: Most of my navigation is based upon mental mapping. I am fortunate to have a really strong sense of direction and the ability to memorize things very quickly. The iphone also happens to be an amazing assistance in this task as well.

DweebieChimp: I used to work at a restaurant. A group of about 6 blind people were eating there. When they left one of them was stragling as the others had already made they’re way to the exit. He was having trouble finding the exit. I offered to help him and lightly touched his shoulder in an effort to guide him to the exit. He flipped out and started yelling at me not to touch him. I felt really bad as I Dident really stop to think how demeaning it could come across as… How do you handle these kind of situations?

thetj87: This is a real challenging one, as I can really see both sides on it. I know you were trying to help him, but would you just grab any other person? chances are, no, you’d ask if they needed help. However his reaction was most likely overkill as well. It really goes back to my point of doing your best to treat people as people and nt as people with a condition.

TipsyTiger: Being blind, do you ever feel you miss out in life, or do you take it all in your stride?

thetj87: I feel like I experience differently, no less or more.

shanx98765: What’s your number one frustration?

thetj87: Ignorant people. That’s largely why I’m doing this really. TC mark

image – Aih

Chelsea Fagan

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.

Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

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