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14 déc. 2013 (il y a 3 années et 6 mois)

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ZoomNews survey

he question of help

Here was the question that appeared in ZoomNews August:

"What do you say to people who have good intentions and want to help you but
you don't need or want it? It is uncomfortable sometimes in telling someone that
you do not require their assistance. They seem hurt or unappreciated in their
attempts to aid you when you do not need it. Do you feel badly about hurting their
feelings? Do they feel embarrassed or ashamed? And what do you do when they
are willing to help

you with things you do not need help with, but when you do
need help and they ignore you then what?"

I am always so thankful when people offer their assistance. I explain my situation and they
understand and their help is welcomed.

What bothers me howev
er is those folks who can clearly see you are struggling but either
choose to not help or are simply so taken back by their inability to assist, that it really becomes
uncomfortable. Case in point, finding the right sized piece of hardware at Home Depot.

I simply and most graciously say Thank You even if I don't need or want their help. It is easier
for me to accept one's kindness and help and make that person feel good about them self, then
to get into a dialogue about my condition or a rebuff that I don'
t want or need their help.

Adele ; )

This depends on the attitude of the person trying to help. To sum it up, there are basically three
kinds of attitudes that can be displayed: one that shows what is called “soft bigotry” or an
attitude of superiority a
nd control yet with guile and a more subtle approach, that attitude of
control and intent to show oneself superior even though the outside appearance is that of
“wanting to help,” then there is those who are genuine and who offer to assist yet doing so out

of kindness. While I really don’t like to hurt anyone’s feelings, it is from this third group that I’m
most concerned with but it is also from this third group that can be educated the easiest and
who will listen. May we also ourselves do our best to re
main in this third group when we
encounter others with different disabilities.

I usually take the lead to avoid uncomfortable and awkward situations. For example, when with
a new doctor or person that doesn't know me, I initiate the conversation, by in
troducing myself
and stating that I am vision impaired. Then I give a quick reference for them to remember me in
the future, like "Can you imagine that I play blind golf?"

Then after they respond, I make a
verbal note to them, "that the best way to commu
nicate with me is to explain what you are doing
or want me to do in more detail than usual, and I'll be glad to do that. If I cannot, I'll ask for
help." It always is a success, as there is no embarrassment for them and with the situation laid
out, commu
nication goes smoothly and the next time, they see me, they recall the little note,
and will ask how my golf game is going!

Ty Thompson

Am I hesitant, or uncertain?

Perhaps. But the absolute answer to the question is "Take the

You may not n
eed it, but what about the NEXT low vision person your (rejected) helper
meets? He may want help, but the helper may not be as eager to volunteer. It's our duty to train
these people.

So what if you get a little help? He may oil your roller skates, may

The supermarket is really fun. I can see well enough to find the bean department, but I can't
tell the difference between baked and green

there is usually someone walking by who is glad
to respond.

When I explain that I can't read, little kid
s may wonder how I skipped that part of
school. Sometimes the person doesn't speak English that adds to the fun.

The best thing I ever did was ask help from a big fellow in a wheel chair. I believe he was so
much on the receiving end that he got a kick

from giving the assistance. We met on another

he was ready for more questions.

For me the die was cast with the Boy Scouts. As a twelve year old tenderfoot I was always on
the lookout for little old ladies to help across the street. Sometimes

with the fourteen and fifteen
year old ladies we even walked down the block together.

Recently the conversations have been more about politics

that helps the blood circulat
and occasionally pulls some
one back from the cliff.

To sum it up:

cept help when i
t is offered. You are training
friends for those who really
need it. (Not you or me


Russell Ellis

I simply say that I appreciate what they had done for me, even though I did not need the
assistance at the time. This can be true with relatives. Although you do not want to hurt their
feelings, sometimes it is better to go along with it and thank them in
the end and say, “That you
really appreciate what they had done.” Sometimes the thing I do is reward them by letting them
have a pack of my cigarettes from my carton as a reward for the good deeds done.

As to ignorance, you just simply assume that they ar
e not willing to help. For example, crossing
a street sighted guide. I had noticed that I did need help at one time crossing a street and that
people just walked by because they were too busy talking on their cell phones, hence the need
for the blind commu
nity’s need to speak up and start demanding that their cities and towns
install audible/vibrating pedestrian signals, to help out both the blind and the deaf/blind.

Pharmacies can also be the most ignorant of all. Especially the big chain pharmacies, who
very unwilling to purchase equipment that will put labels into alternative accessible format,
however, I was at a CVS pharmacy in Watertown, Massachusetts yesterday and the pharmacist
did print out the label in large print and I told her that it needed

to be attached to the prescription
bottle. Her reply was that the large print labels were on too many sheets of paper to attach it to
a prescription label. The label was blown up using a Xerox copying machine, which is an old
fashion way of putting materi
als into accessible format for people with vision impairments or low
vision to be able to read. I was at Community Access Monitor Training yesterday and the day
before, September 11
September 12, 2012, and as one might expect, one page of print would
late into three pages of Braille. So, thus, how is this going to help with prescription labeling
when all of the important information needs to be on a medication bottle to identify what the
instructions, the number of pills or eye drops are contained in t
he medication bottle and also the
expiration date and the number of refills remaining, the prescriber’s name, the pharmacy name,
and last but not least, the RX number and the pharmacy’s phone number.

Thus, the help we need in that area comes in the form o
f technology. There are devices that can
read aloud to blind people information contained on prescription labels. At the current time, Wal
Mart is running a pilot program with the Script Talk system in ten stores, as last updated from
Vision America. Ei
ther through an out of state pharmacist or through their mail order
pharmacy. Thus, to find out more about this pharmacy program, contact En
Vision America at 1
800 890
1180 to find out about the program or any other pharmacies that offer prescriptions
ng the script talk system put out by En
Vision America and then see what medications are
covered in your prescription plan and see if the insurance has the pharmacy in their network, or
the alternative is to look into either purchasing or having your insur
ance company or Medicaid in
your state through prior authorization cover the Pen Friend, which comes with recordable labels
that can be attached to your prescriptions and have the pharmacist record on these labels. And
when it is time for a refill, you wil
l need a new label to recorded on. Then, once the Pen Friend is
placed on the label, through the push of a button, you will be able to hear that label.

If the pharmacist does not want to record the information, then it is time for the blind community
to b
e proactive and write to the headquarters of their pharmacies and demand equal access to
their prescriptions. Thanks to the FDA Safety and Innovations Act, we are one step closer to
accessible prescription labeling as the pharmacies have to establish a wor
king group to
establish best practices to make prescription labeling in accessible format for the blind and
visually impaired. I tried to get health insurance companies to cover the costs of the devices up
in Massachusetts through legislation for 10 years
and had failed. The problem is that medical
supply stores do not have the devices in their stores, and also the pharmacies do not. The
insurance companies, especially, MassHealth want to see the devices in the stores or
pharmacies. In short, if we want the

help we really need, we as a group need to come out in
numbers and advocating for things like accessible prescription labels and accessible pedestrian
signals, such as audible/vibrating, or you can always write to Apple or Microsoft or other third
party s
oftware companies and have mobile apps that can do this, and may I add, without the
extra cost of a data plan, because, if one is not employed, how can one afford a data plan. In
short, you want the innovations to also be applicable to devices that use wir
eless hot spots via
iPod touches or the iPad or even the Android operating system. And finally, in Microsoft’s
mobile version of Windows 8. Our relatives are not going to be around forever. So, we might as
well be proactive now, because, one never knows.

ubmitted By Brian Jude Coppola

A simple ... "Thank you

but I need to know how to do this task for myself" response is both
honest and direct. You need not be forceful or rude, simply show yourself to be competent and
capable. The last thing you want to
happen at that moment is to enter into a long
discussion of your needs and their need to be helpful.

If the person is insistent, with further offers of help

calmly and in a low conspiratorial tone of

explain that your hope is for someday t
o be able to live an independent life and that this
is but one of the skills that needs to be practiced until mastered. Sincerely thank the person
once again for their concern and then excuse yourself to "concentrate on the practice at hand".
By this short

and polite exchange, you will have both gracefully acknowledged the persons good
intentions and satisfied their need to be of assistance to you. Further, you will have included
them in on the process that will most effectively help attain your goal for in

When someone offers me help when I do not wish to receive their help or do not need it I thank
them as graciously as I can but explain that I am anxious to try to continue doing things for
myself as long as possible but would be pleased and gr
ateful if they would try to assist another
person and ask that person to try to help another, thus continuing the help circle.

Rita Carlo

When people want to help me when I do not need it or want it, I will say "Thank you but I can
manage this." Sometime
s I just let them help me when I really do not need it then say "Thank
You," with a smile.

If they ignore me when I need help, I say, "Please, can you help me with this?"

Joy I. Glick

When someone tries to help me with something I don't need help with

I understand their good
intentions so I say "thank you I got it, I see it".

My close friends will ask me if I need assistance
and know that I will ask for help if I need it.

On the other hand my family members tend to get
angry if I tell them I don't ne
ed help.

They think they know better than me what I need and don't
need assistance with.

People who don't know me well will just start helping and when I say I
can do it they start talking to me like I was a child "are you sure you can do it?

I don't mi
doing it for you."

In this situation everyone involved feels uncomfortable and puts tension
between us.

Sue Nyland

This happens a lot to me, when I am places (I have a guide dog) people are always trying to
help me with carrying things when shopping o
r helping me order or asking if I need help with my
dog. I mean I am a 16 year old girl with some vision the only difference is I can't see well and I
have a dog with me! :) I sometimes just let it go and have them feel like they were helpful but
other t
imes I tell them "oh it's okay I can manage". I feel bad for not taking help but if I don't
need it I don't want it. I feel bad if they get embarrassed so I usually smile and tell them it's
okay not to worry and it was nice to offer! People are usually
understanding. :) Sometimes I get
the old "how did you know I was petting your dog, you’re blind" lol but I say "you know not every
blind person is in the dark, some of us see just not well" :) most people are nice but some can
be a trip! :) Most people a
re always ready to help but kindly I always say sure or no thanks,
careful not to hurt others feelings!

Danny Bohbot :)

Most definitely a common occurrence. I am however somewhat lucky in these circumstances.
You see I am a 'big unit' anyone offering me
assistance is doing so in full knowledge that if they
don't step aside quickly momentum is not their friend. I can joke about it, but many of my female
VIP friends are often accosted by men looking to somehow "look after" them, and they tell me it
is somet
imes a bit unnerving.

My approach is always to be polite, "thanks for the offer, bit I'm OK at the moment" and then
sometimes I add "I know I take a bit longer to find things, but I get there in the end".

It is easy to be a bit flippant when you are as big

as I am. People are friendly and had very good

I have also had a few scuffles, Once I bumped into someone and they spun ready to hit me, but
my size and then the case (fortunately) stopped them quickly (lucky for me).



Always have
a smile and use humor where possible. And remember nearly everyone wants to
do right by you.

I try to be flexible with what I say depending on the situation or the person I'm talking with.

Don't need help:

"I really appreciate your offer, but I think I'm
OK. I'll certainly let you know if I need help."

"Thanks a lot, but I've been doing this so much that I can almost do it with my eyes closed."

"That's really kind, but I'm too proud."

"Yes, if you are a psychiatrist."

"Sure........ I'd love a new sailboa

Do need help:

"I'm almost blind, could you please.........?"

(with a shopping list in hand) "I'm almost blind, could you please get somebody to help me by
these items?"

"I don't see well, could you tell me how to get to......?"

I sometimes bring a whit
e cane ...more to get help than to get around. The first time was at
Starbuck's. I was a bit self
conscious (I still ride a bicycle), but the great results got me over it

NB: I have 20:500 vision from Stargardt's (a form of juvenile macular


Christopher (Kilof) Legge


This happens a lot
!!! Usually I just play along & let them "help." Sometimes I say NO and offer
an alternative, such as visiting or sharing as equals. That seems 2work2 ease tensions & build a

me say I have an odd sense of humor, but I’m rarely being funny = I am "always" serious = I
criticize or teach others. So I think they
r just tryn 2 ignore what I say
!!!= make it a joke. sad


PS I ask people 2 say their name when we meet: they don't. My

friend says 'please take off that
mask so I know who u r.' I need 2do that !!! joke a bit more !!!

Well, the way I look at it, if I had answers to the contest question, I would not have submitted the
question in the first place.

haha so here goes.

When it comes to close friends and family, I react much differently than I do to acquaintances or

Easy enough when it comes to the latter group as I simply explain my situation and
define what I need assistance with.

I absolutely love it when
a cute male flight attendant offers
his arm to walk me down the jet way when boarding a plane.

I act like I cannot see at all.

I also
love it when they gush all over me so I usually do not let pride stand in my way by telling them
that I do not need thei
r arm around me or the flattery they bestow all over me while walking very
very slowly down the jet way.

I may be blind but I am not stupid.

I am sure everyone has the following story to tell but am not sure if the environment in which
they experienced
this was as unique as when it happened to me.

I was attending the
Association for the Blind School for a review of computers while attending grad

Blindness and Visual services was not only picking up the tab for my education but my
financial situ
ation allowed for me to receive a free computer.

However, as many government
organizations require now, I had to be familiar with three different magnification programs before
selecting the computer and application to be used on it.

It is supposed to pre
vent kickbacks to

Well, since I had no transportation, I had to stay in the dorm at this school for three
days while I worked with the computers and magnification programs.

The first morning, I awoke
and headed for the cafeteria for my coffee.

When I arrived, it was like heaven as I had the place
to myself with the exception of cafeteria staff and a huge urn of coffee which I felt I

Well, there were no coffee cups to be seen.

I am like what the hell?

Finally, one of
the ladies working

in the cafeteria came by and I asked her where the coffee cups were.

points to some place that I could not see.

I asked her where are they?

She shouts at the top of
her lungs where she is pointing.

I did not know whether to laugh or cry.

I wanted

so badly to
yell back, I am blind not deaf you blank moron.

Of all places for such a thing to occur, did it
have to be a school for the blind?

I think I told you of the new friend I had just made when I first moved to Pgh.

I explained about
my visual
limitations and thought she understood what it all implied.

So one day while shopping
in Ross Park Mall, She was trying to guide me through the mall letting me know when there
were gigantic huge columns in the mall corridors so would not walk into them.

At the time, that
was not an issue for me when walking around in the mall.

I politely tried to tell her that I was ok
and did not need such close guidance while walking around.

I did let her know that if I needed
help with anything, I would be sure to as
k and that the only help I could foresee me asking for
was when trying to read price tags or sizes on anything I might want to purchase.

As the
shopping went on, somehow it came up in conversation that I did not have a driver's license.

my shock, she
looks at me in disbelief and says "what do you mean you do not have a driver's

Like it was something she could not comprehend happening to a woman in the
late 1980's.

What I wanted to say and what I actually said are two different things.


wanted to
say are you blanking stupid or what?

What I said was well, doesn't it make sense that with a
visual impairment that I would not pass the eye test?

It becomes so hard to bite one's tongue when stupid things fly out of someone's mouth.

I think

had a professor who was trying to figure out what accommodations I would need in order to
succeed in his/her class.

The one accommodation at the time prior to learning about
Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic and their text books was having print ma
terials enlarged
on the copier.

It became frustrating as the pages were so large and once I received a cctv it
was just easier to have things in normal print size so that I could fit it under the cctv but all my
professors insisted this would be easier fo
r me.

They were insulted when I would request they
not enlarge my print materials.

I even tried to explain the size of the tray under the camera on
the cctv and how it was difficult to fit it underneath.

They still did not get it.

I ended up just
ng them do what they wanted.

It was much easier to just shut them up.

I cannot recall what the circumstances were but it again had to do with whether I would be able
to read the print format.

I tried to explain that I would not be able to do so and the

person was
stumped on what to do.

I told the person, pretend I cannot read and read the material to

That person screamed "What do you mean you cannot read"??????

I wanted to scream
"what do you mean, you cannot hear?"

Either people are more aware

today of accommodations needed for any disability or technology
has reduced the incidents of needing assistance and having to ask morons for help.

Well, that is my contribution to the contest question that I ask myself.


When someone offers unw
anted help, I usually thank him/her md say something like this. "I
really need your help on this research project. Let me put together a list of questions tonight
and I will give them to you tomorrow, for you to work on."

It works almost every time.

thaniel Cohen

I simply say, thank you for your offer of help but I'm ok with this on my own.

William Austin

What do you say to people who have good intentions and want to help you but you don't
need or want it?

What I say totally depends on the per
son who is offering the help. If it is someone close,
family or friend, then I just remind them that I don’t need help and I smile...if I think they are
being thoughtless then they don’t get the smile, they get sarcasm and a dirty look of some sort.
If i
t’s a stranger or someone whom I so not see often, I will say “no t
hanks, I can do that myself.”

It is uncomfortable sometimes in telling someone that you do not require their
assistance. They seem hurt or unappreciated in their attempts to aid you when you do
not need it. Do you feel badly about hurting their feelings?

No, I don’t feel ba
d abo
ut hurting someone’s feelings.

I am new at this and have been
legally blind for 3 years. Sometime I feel bad, because I am still in denial and do not want to put
anyone out of their way...usually when someone asks me if I need help with any given ta
sk, it is
after they realize that I am visually impaired. After I walk into someone in a poorly lit
environment, I will get a “what’s the matter with you?” or “are you alright?” When they realize
that I didn’t see them, they apologize, but I feel bad, be
cause I know that, to them I appear
normal, and I should be more verbal of have something like a cane or a dog so that they know
my problem. I still have issues with even thinking
about getting more assistance.

Do the
y feel embarrassed or ashamed?

Strangers either feel embarrassed or a bit put off when they realize if my response seems
moody. If I am in a hurry, sometimes my quick response might seem rude; family, however
sometimes might feel ashamed only if they realize that it is a task that they

have offered hel
p for
on several occasions. I
reassure them quickly, because everyone I know offers help, from car
rides to helping with errands. Although, recently I had a physical therapist for a shoulder injury,
and we used a crowded gym with a milli
obstacles in my path

and a huge glaring window. I
told her on the first visit that I was legally blind and would need some help getting from machine
to machine. I also said that the glare from the window made it more difficult to see, and she
seemed p
ut off. She also did not know her right from her left, so telling me where to move was
awkward and, after I bumped my shins and head on several pieces of
, I sat with her
and explained the issues, and she seemed really ashamed and I
felt bad...bu
t no more bumps!!!

And what do you do when they are willing to help you with things you do not need help
with, but when you do need help
and they ignore you then what?"

Again, it depends on who is

doing the ignoring...generally,

with strangers, I

will be a bit
stubborn and feebly try to get tasks done myself. But if I know that I’m in harm’s way or
someone else’s way, then I will usually just freeze and quietly try and get someone’s attention; it
took me 2 years to realize that pointing to my eye
s and saying that I don’t see well is really
vague and often misunderstood as a short term or quick fix issue: something in my eye of dirty
glasses or
whatever. As

soon as I tell someone that I am legally blind, I have never had
someone ignore me. I do n
ot take family ignoring me personal at all, if they ignore me,

usually because of other distractions, so I gently remind them of what might happen if we don’t
resolve the issue.

When people ask if I need help but I don't need it, I say, "No thanks, I'm fine. Thanks for the
offer though!" I don't feel embarrassed about turning down offers of help, but I make sure to do
so in a positive way so the person won't be discouraged from tr
ying to help next time (whether
it's me or someone else)
because next time someone might really need help! It's really good of
people to want to help, so you don't want to turn them off to it. I get this a lot, because in
addition to my visual impairment
I have cerebral palsy, so I take a lot longer to do many things
and sometimes probably look like I'm struggling with things when I've really got it under control,
just because of the fact that I move differently, have to get close to things to see them, et
People usually get the point and leave me alone when I decline their offer of help. If they insist,
I'll be a little more firm, and say something like, "Look, I really appreciate your concern, but I
really can do this myself. Thanks." Usually they'll
get the point after that. Sometimes it happens
that I think I can handle something on my own and it's not until someone approaches me to ask
if I need help that I realize "Hey, yeah, it would be really nice to have help with this!" and then I'll
take them

up on their offer. I actually can't think of a time I've had the other experience you
asked about, when somebody who was really insistent about trying to help me when I didn't
need it ignored me when I did
though I've been dealing with this stuff long e
nough that I'm sure
it probably happened at some point.

Have a great day!


How I handle these situations depends on whether or not I have an ongoing relationship with
the person offering help. If this is a one
time interaction, and they offer help I

don’t need, I might
say “Thanks for offering but I’ve got this!”

Sometimes I ask for specific help and the person I ask may offer something else that is not
helpful, which is awkward. For example, at a fast food restaurant I cannot see the overhead
u so I ask if they have a paper copy of the menu (I can look at it with a magnifier). They will
often say something like “Just tell me what you want and I will find it on the menu.” I find this
frustrating as I want to be tempted by what they have to offe
r rather than having to always order
the same old thing I know exists. I realize that in the moment, the employee is probably giving
the best solution they know. I don’t have a great solution at this point because there is usually a
crowd, the restaurant

is busy and I don’t want to embarrass the food server by rejecting their
help all together. My only effective solution is to be proactive and look the menu up online using
ZoomText before I go somewhere. In the situation in which I am unprepared, I usua
surrender because otherwise I end up feeling rude. I usually mention a few things I might like
and let them tell me what they offer that is similar. I often think of writing management and
asking them to please have paper copies of menus on hand for t
he visually impaired, but I never
seem to get around to it. Writing this down for the blog may nudge me to do just that!

If the person offering unwanted help is a coworker or someone with whom I will have an
ongoing relationship, I usually try to share mo
re information because the issue will keep coming
up. I find it is best if I make sure I am not irritated with them or emotional about my struggles
when I talk to them. I might say “Hey, thanks for wanting to give me a hand this morning when I
was pickin
g up papers off the printer. Vision struggles are sort of an invisible disability and I
think it is really hard to know how or when to help someone who does not see well. I use my
magnifier to see up close all the time, so that is not something I need he
lp with, it is how I get
through my day. However, sometimes when the printer jams, I have a really hard time seeing
the display messages to fix it. That is when I really could use another set of eyes.”

"What do you say to people who have good intention
s and want to help you but you don't
need or want it? It is uncomfortable sometimes in telling someone that you do not require
their assistance.

It is very uncomfortable mostly with unknown people who try to help.

I usually don’
t say anything if I jud
ge it is only for once, and minimal assistance. I appreciate
their effort and thank them.

In other cases, when the

assistance time loo
s like being for long, I explain that my central
vision loss leaves me the ability to manage, however

depending a lot o
n the environment,
mainly I can't read unless I use magnifying


I prefer walking on a rainy day than on a
sunny one,

and stairs are easier to get up than down.

After a brief explanation, they usually ask what they could do, and all goes well.

They seem hurt or unappreciated in their attempts to aid you when you do not need it. Do
you feel badly about hurting their feelings? Do they feel embarrassed or ashamed?

I also would feel bad in case someone with good will would feel hurt. Therefore I
do the utmost
to make them feel comfortable. I do joke on the condition:

''I can't even predict myself easily how I will see in a particular environment, so how could you?"

"I tend to follow anyone on my way, using the person's feet as a guide! "

nately, I can ask my way when I get lost!'

I feel humor always set good atmosphere for future help.

And what do you do when they are willing to help you with things you do not need help with,
but when you do need help and they ignore you then what?"

This is the most difficult part. Usually, they don't understand that I would need help and I don't
always have the courage to ask.

Then I realize how complex is the condition and if this repeats on a same day I tend to

get the

I don't have the cou
rage to ask for assistance in any single situation. They are

many in a
day, and different every

day. In the end I always have to cope alone at one point, as explaining
becomes as

as the condition is.

I can walk alone to an office, however I can

read the label on the door.
I can go to a

meeting room alone, however I sit at the table, even when the meeting has been
rescheduled to another room, and I can't notice until unknown people attending another meetin
in the original room speak.
I can attend a party, however I often put my fingers

in the creamy
toasts or try to eat wrapped food. In the end, I stay away from food, if I feel


I would need help, but who could guess around?

I don't feel resentment at others. I
just feel it is
difficult to cope with low vision.

I say, "thanks but no thanks" or "I’m just fine, but thanks anyway".


I thank the person but firmly and confidently explain that I can perform the task at hand. If the
technique I am using is eas
y to explain, I usually try to summarize what I am doing in just a few
words. For instance, a few days ago I was about to cross a street when someone yelled from a
nearby car, “Do you need help crossing the street?” I replied, “Thank you, but no. I am wa
for the traffic pattern to change before I cross.”

I also try to remember to smile. When you turn down someone’s offer to help, they usually
come to one of two conclusions:
ither they realize you are able to do it without help, or they
assume yo
u cannot do it but are being stubborn and ungrateful. If they fit the first pattern, your
smile and confident manner reassure them. If they come to the second conclusion, be kind and
don’t let their limited perspective dampen your mood or confidence. This

way, you can hope to
indirectly educate them before their next encounter with a blind or visually
impaired person.

Best regards,

Joe Drenth

What I do when someone offers help and I do not need it or I want to do it myself, is I say,
“Thank you for offeri
ng your assistance.

I appreciate it but fortunately I can (or want) to do it

I feel that it is important to let the person know that their assistance is appreciated.

Sometimes I
just accept their offer if I feel that it is an appropriate offer f
or the blind.

I want them to know that
offering assistance to a blind person is appropriate.

This even applies to my spouse who often
wants to step in and help.

Bill Stockslager

I can do this myself, but it's so nice to know people want to help or are
so thoughtful or
something like that.

Practically every day when I am walking the streets and/or traveling on the New York subway
someone offers me assistance. Most of the time I am traveling the same route, and I know it
well. I appreciate the offers

and tend to respond, “Thank you, but I’m okay.” This, I feel,
extends a note of appreciation to the person while politely declining his or her offer of
assistance. On the other hand when I am unsure of where I am I ask someone nearby where I
am and for
any directions that I might need. I travel with a cane, so some unspoken social norm
alerts the individual that I am a person use some help. “Can you tell me where I am?” “Can you
tell me how to get from here to..?”

That is what has worked for me. I ho
pe that it will be illuminating to others.

It is a very tough situation sometimes, depending on who the person is who wants to help
(family, friend or not such friendly friend). Some situations it is so hard to say no help required,
so you accept the h
elp even though it causes more problems than help. You just have to smile
and bare it because you know they mean well and think they are doing so much for you. On the
other hand if it means a chance that their help may a bit dangerous or many cause you som
losses (financially or respect) you have to find a way to tell them you aren’t in need of any help
for now and will let them know when you can use their help.

As far as needing their help and they can’t help you, jot this down in your memory pad for fut
situations and take better account of whom your real friends/help are!


I might let them help me because I don't want to hurt their feelings.

If it is something simple I will tell people no thank you for help.

I will say thanks for the offer to h

I would tell them that I have already done the job and I don't need their assistance. Also if I
need help with something else I would appreciate them helping me. Telling the truth sometimes
will hurt but it is the best thing to do.

If a person p
rovides me with help that I don't need my reaction depends on the times I expect to
see the person in the future. If I don't expect to see them very often I will just say "thank you"
and accept their help. Why hurt their feelings? On the other hand, if
I expect to see them more
frequently, I will explain a little more about my eye condition (AMD). For example, I will tell them
that I have a pretty good grasp of my overall surroundings. It is the fine detail such as reading a
menu or a stre
et sign that
I have difficulty
with. I can see that there is a sign there, it's just that I
can't tell you what it says. Most often, I have those who know me well who forget that I have
low vision and think that I have normal sight. They think that I get along so we
ll they seem to
forget that I could use a little help now and then. For example someone will tell me to look at
something on the side of the road while traveling 55 mph. My sight doesn't allow me to take in a
scene at that speed. A pet peeve of mine is to

have my dining companion precede me into a
restaurant, sit down and expect me to find them. It seems that my experience is not getting help
when it is needed rather than having too much or unwanted help.

In my everyday life, I have met many people who of
fers there assistance to me when I really
don’t need help. Being very independent and confident in doing most things on my own, it
places me in an awkward position when one offers me assistance when not needed.

Well, in a situation like this...I thank the

person for being so kind. And, with a smile on my face,
I say, "Please don’t feel bad, but even though I am BLIND, I would like to be treated like a
"sighted person". I am capable of completing this task on my own right now, but, is it alright if I
you to help me when I cannot accomplish something alone? I just want to continue being
as independent as I can possible be for a while." I end the conversation with me saying: "Thank
you, you are a great help to me." This works for me and it usually lea
ds into a conversation
where the next person wants to know what’s it like to be blind, how we function alone not being
able to see etc... I have not been told yet that I have hurt anyone’s feelings. Many just say
you are strong..............

My name i
s Dorna, I have been blind over seven years. Thank you God Bless.


This is a great question.

I have two different answers for this.

f I'm at home I usually go about it this way: I thank them for the help, but I tell them that I need
to do it to keep whatever skill up. I then ask them to help me with something else that I do need
help with.

For example: thank you, but I can cut up the
onion. I need to keep my cooking skills sharp. Can
you stir the pot on the stove for me?

In public I have a different mindset. I typically accept the help and thank the person helping me

even if I don't need it. They assume I am totally blind because of
the cane, which is
understandable. I do not want to make them think twice before helping the disabled again.


Trevor Treloar

This has actually happen to me several times, since I first became partially sighted 12 years
ago. At first I felt a loss o
f my independence

I mean I wanted to do as much for myself as I can

for as long as I can! That was until I almost stepped out from the curb in front of a car I didn't
see. Since then I remind myself that I'm really NOT the best person to judge how wel
l I can see
at any given moment, and I'm very happy to receive any visual help whenever it is offered. .

I thank them and then say, "I really need to do this myself, but knowing you want to help me, I
will let you know when I need an assist. Thank you

for caring!"

Gayle Miller

If someone kindly offers me help I don't need, I try to keep in mind they have kindly offered help!
The first and most important response should always be gratitude. Whether I need the help or
not doesn't matter. Whether it is r
eally helpful or not doesn't matter. Whether I accept the help or
not doesn't matter. Showing gratitude for the kindness is the most important reaction.

In most cases, I accept the help as it is easier than explaining why I don't need it. In some cases
irecting the help is handy and beneficial. After a "Thank you", I might add "I have no trouble
opening a door; finding it is the problem." If someone asks how they can help, this is much
easier. When a stewardess asks me to call if I need anything, I will
often suggest she (or he)
should use my name or touch my hand to let me know she is speaking to me. However, don't
burden someone offering 5 seconds of help with a 5 minute description of how they should help.
Consider carefully the cost/benefit of anythin
g more than a simple, one sentence request.

On the other hand, I am not shy about asking for help. I certainly don't like to do so. It makes me
feel 'disabled'. However, I do it anyway. Besides the benefit I receive, I hope it helps those
involved to be mo
re aware of those who could use their help. I usually find people I've asked to
be pleased to provide help. Of course, 'Thanks' should be a high priority part of the ensuing

Many people have never interacted with a blind person before. If the
y show the consideration
and courage to offer help we should be gracious and thankful. Courtesy never hurts and it may
encourage more helpfulness for and by others.


You tell them in a nice and polite way:

Thank you, but I think I can do this myself.

However if I
run into a problem I will let you know.

For me when it is offered, if it is a dark area, I accept or will ask for it since I am also night blind.
If it is during the daytime, I would say thanks, I am ok at the moment. I normally always carr
y my
cane with the red tip on it, so people know that I am visually diffabled, yes I am diffabled not
disabled, cause there in not anything that I can do if I put my mind to doing it.

All I have to do is use these three things.


Attention to Detail.


m Solving.


Decision Making.

Once you have those three things and learn to use them each and every day there is nothing
that you cannot do.

Like my coworker Denny, use to always say, you’re disabled and your point.

John Overman

I try to be upfront about my needs and lack of needs right
up front.

I express grat
itude for their
and clearly state with a body language and tone of voice that expresses
appreciation. I do find that people tend to offer help when I do not

need it and avoid giving help
often when it would be inconvenient and/or time consuming. This is because people's lives tend
to be very rushed these days and finding time for extras is in short supply. When I am
g and sensitive to THEIR needs
and limitations and do not have expectations of
others it helps build positive relationships. Findin
g a balance and being sensitive to others

is so crucial.

In the past I’ve replied “I’m all set right now but I might call on you later.”

And “thank


I generally say “I got it but thanks; I appreciate it.” My tone is good because I don’t mind people
asking. I just use it as an opportunity to educate. Neither my tone nor my response seems to
barrass people; I’m not into that.

Sheri Koch

I feel that the most important thing is to always be polite to people who offer assistance. I have
seen blind people get very hostile towards those offering help and it comes across as very
tacky. I try
to educate the helper on what I need. For example people often like to lead blind
folks around by pushing them in the back. When this happens to me I tell the sighted person
that I would prefer to hold on to their elbow and let them lead the way. It is
also important to be
direct with people in what you need. So instead of asking a question like “I wonder where the
restroom is” it is better to ask the sighted assistant something like “Please show me where the
restroom is”. My wife has told me on many o
ccasions that this approach is preferable.

What a great question!

This is one of the most difficult things about being blind and needing help. It is so true that when
I am in familiar territory there seems to be a host of people willing to let me know wh
ere the curb
is, where the steps are, where the door is etc., but when I am in an unfamiliar spot where are
these kind people? NOWHERE!!! After a one of two minute pity party I try to put a good face on
and retreat it as a learning experience.

As for let
ting people help me whether I need it or not

it really depends. My rule in my home is

no sighted guiding me in my own house. I work out of my home and have it set up and I know
where everything is. I have had friends come over while I prepare food for
example and start
telling me where the knife is on the cutting board or a certain condiment in the fridge. I politely
ask them to stop as this is one place where I can function without their assistance and I value
that freedom. I can usually find a task fo
r these kind friends to do

for example

find me a can
in the pantry or chop some veggies. If not they just need to sit down and be quiet and they can
help me when I really need it.

Often in public I allow people to help me whether I need it or not

pecially when it is going to
be a short contact

for example if someone insists on telling me where the toilet is in a familiar
public washroom

I just say thanks and carry on. I know that next time I am in an unfamiliar
public washroom I might spend som
e time waving my cane about looking for the toilet, sink and

If, for example I am at a bath store and want to spend some time smelling all 30 different bottles
of body wash

I politely say that I do not need help and would like to spend some tim
e on my

A few years ago I went on a retreat in another city and stayed at a hotel with another woman in
the leadership group. She often gave me rides to leader’s meetings and knew some of my
abilities and limitations. When it came to the hotel room s
he began to tell me where I was going
every time I got up to get coffee or go the bathroom etc. Right away I nicely told her that when
we were in the hotel room could she please not mind me and let me walk about on my own

otherwise, neither of us would b
e able to relax. I jokingly

and truthfully

told her I would give
her lots of work to do guiding me around when we went to the dining room and convention
center. She was a bit taken aback at first but accepted this as true.

I suppose in short

I would

just suggest that people need to be as honest as possible. I try to
smile and be kind

but there is only so much I can do when people are hurt.

Most people who offer to help are genuinely trying to help and in a world that is mean and
selfish I really h
ate to discourage that kind of behavior. I often say that one of the blessings of
being legally blind is that I get to see the kinder gentler side of humanity

where people ignore
a “normal” person in distress

they will help a person carrying a white ca
ne for very minor
reasons. It would be nice if kindness could become a habit not just to people who have visible

but for everyone.

I hope you post some of the answers to this question as I would love to hear how some others
handle this

What I generally say is "I'm ok but thanks." Sometimes I will even accept the help just so the
person can feel good about their good deed. I have macular degeneration and have fairly good
side vision but can't read anything unless it’s huge or re
cognize people. There are times help is
required due to this so I always try to leave a good Samaritan feeling good about themselves.

Stephen Seymour

This used to happen often when I was waiting to cross a complicated intersection to get to work.

On a
quiet day, I stand at the curb, lined up just so, waiting to cross. Someone walks up to me,
puts a hand on my arm, and says, "I can help you cross the street."

I feel my arm or shoulder stiffen because I'm anxious
I don't like just anyone touching my arm
or shoulder, not if I don't know them! I say, "Thanks, but I can handle it." Reactions vary. Some
say, "OK", some people will apologize, sounding embarrassed. Others will tell me that they
aren't sure when to ask, so they feel nervous asking, but they want

to help if they can. Most
people are nice when I tell them I don't need their assistance.

get mad and stomp off in a
huff, muttering about how I just don't appreciate them. The o
nes who get mad are a minority.

Most of the time

I do not feel bad te
lling someone I do not need their assistance. Only with
some people who have mental problems and just don't understand


I do feel bad, but I still
do not let them help me
I'm just nicer about expl
aining why I don't need help...


"Thank you for yo
ur kind offer. However, I find it best to do as many things as possible myself.
That helps me maintain a sense of confidence and self
reliance. There are, however, times
when I do require and appreciate help. I shall keep your generous offer in mind and ca
ll on you
when the need arises. Bless you and do let me know if there is something I might help you

Noel Hinners

Because I cannot drive and sometimes need transport I do get offers of help. My response is to
say "thank you" and make sure the person

asking really knows it helps. However I also make it
plain that if I then ask for a lift and the person cannot help on that occasion that I am not
offended or upset if they say "No", but that I don't want them to say "Yes" and then be put out or
feel inco
nvenienced when it comes to providing the help. A "no" is so much better than a "yes"
with lots of strings and grumbles. Getting the terms of engagement right really help.

If the person offering help is not really willing to help when needed, it is far be
tter finding out
before you have the crises and are desperate. Finally you just have to be bold and ask, because
human beings were not given the sense/gift of telepathy. Just because you think your need is
obvious to others, others will not see it that way

You do need to explain what helps and what does not and be very patient.

When asked by someone if I need help, but I do not need help

I politely say no thanks I’m fine. And then I take it as an opportunity to introduce myself and also
use it as an ed
ucational opportunity. I share that I am legally blind, and have been this way all
my life. I point out what I can and cannot see and share any tools I have with me to “show & tell”
how I get along day

Yes, most will feel a bit embarrassed initiall
y, thinking that they were rude for offering, but I do
my best to dispel that. For me the reality is that I do not “appear” to have a special need, but
after a brief intro, we become friends. Also, if I’m asked some more “in
depth” questions, I’m
happy to
respond. Many many times I hear from people who will tell me of a dear friend or
relative who is having vision issues…then that becomes a great opportunity to share about
some of the tools I use AND OF COURSE talk about ZoomText and its abilities!

Then whe
n I tell them that I’ve been an IT Professional for over 30 years and that if it wasn’t for
technology like ZoomText, I could not have continued in this line of business.

And when I need assistance from a stranger, I most often use my stock line of, “Hi, I
’m a legally
blind guy. Can I borrow your vision for a moment?”

…I’ve never been turned down
…we both
walk away with a new “connection”….

I have a problem with people who grab on to me, rather than wait for me to ask for help. Having
been independent fo
r many years takes a lot of adjusting in my attitude. But I always try to be
kind when people try to help. It's strange that when you need help there seems to be no one
present, but when you don't need help there is an abundance offered.

Dana Skeel


I am posed with a situation where someone offers me help and I don’t need the
assistance, I usually make a joke of it. And if they insist on helping me, I ask them to give me a
hand at some outlandish objective. For instance I am known to ask them to powe
r wash the
siding on my house, mow my yard or my favorite is to ask to borrow their car. I make sure to say
it in jest so they are able to laugh it off while not getting offended at my refusal of their services.
I find it works well to keep a sense of humo
r when dealing with people that are not familiar with
the visually impaired. I am totally blind, and actually had a car dealership hand me a set of keys
while I was holding my white cane…

I am the first to joke to make others more comfortable.

Thank you,

Miles Matte

What do you say to people who have good intentions and want to help you but you don't
need or want it?

Answer: I tell them tha
t I got it or I can handle it.

It is uncomfortable sometimes in telling someone that you do not require their
assistance. They seem hurt or unappreciated in their attempts to aid you when you do
not need it. Do you feel badly about hurting their feelings?

Answer: NO absolutely not. People need to realize that we are able to do things and they
never think "Am

I hurting the feelings of this visually

person by doing t
his for them or
by helping them?
" NO they don't they are under this false impression that they have done
something good for a visually impaired person. In

fact it hinders us more because we

are not
able to find a way for us to do the task and learn other ways of a
ccomplishing things on our

Do they feel embarrassed or ashamed?

Answer: Again do they feel that way about our feelings? NO they only think about the good
deed th
y have d
one for a visually impa
ired person.

And what do you do when they are willing to help you with things you do not need help
with, but when you do need help and they ignore you then what?"

Answer: This goes back to learning and finding ways of doing thin
gs on your own. There are
far to

many people in this world that wouldn't lift a finger to help their own mother. It doesn't
matter if someone doesn't want to help me or they igno
e me. I have been raised to do things
my way and to accomplish tasks to my


Usually I'm with friends or family who know me and my needs. They offer assistance navigatin
and I accept it...even when

I don't need it. I don't remember ever being in a situation
where someone's feelings got hurt. Maybe I'm mor
e fortunate than some in that I don't have a
hard time asking for help. People seem to be caring and readily available, should I ask...and
sometimes before I ask. Most often at work someone will write me a note in LARGE PRINT. I
thank them and tell them t
hat large
doesn't help me. Actually, what I need is bolder

sized writing. They respond
fine and, next time, they write things smaller and bolder.
One girl even went out and bought a pen like I use for when she needed to write me a note.
When people know me and that I need help navigating around and reading, I've found them to
be very kind.

There are a lot of people with good intentions.

The worst are those who have college degrees as social
workers working for the state governments.

ese people try to help but usually come off as over
bearing and rude.

If you refuse their help, you are perceived by them as stubborn or unwilling to

After all they are professionals and they know best.

Even if they don’t really have a clue as t
what you need.

I remember a young blind man that refused a helping hand while walking down the
stairs in a theater.

He got mad at the young lady assisting him and fell down the stairs.

Although, he
blamed her for his fall, as an eye
witness to the inc
ident, he just didn’t have the class needed to tell her
how she could assist him.

It was not that he didn't need assistance, she didn’t know how to walk with a
blind person.

Sometimes, it is better to refuse the persons assistance and at other times it
is really important to
recognize the person for the little things that they do for you.

As far as the state employee, they are like
little children, they have good intentions even though they really don’t know what they are doing.

have an oven in my ho
me that is a digital readout display.

I cannot read the display.

The state
consultant insisted that they could put something on the stove so that I could tell how to set my

I told them that I didn’t think that they could do anything.


as stubborn as they were,
I let them come to my home, look at my stove, and then tell me that they could not do anything for

So, in conclusion, I think that you let some people believe that they really are helping you out
although in fact, they have
wasted your day.

But you did acquire a good memory.

And they might go
back to their office and try to come up with a solution to your need.

It’s like screen readers, where
would we be if someone had not noticed that we needed help.

In public, most
people are not aware of my low vision. If I am offered help I do not need, I smile,
accept the offer, and remain thankful that people care. In private with friends and family, I smile,
direct my gaze to theirs and say, "Thank you, but I am fine. I promise
to let you know if I need

For me asking for help is harder than accepting unneeded help. Those closest to us are often
blind to our needs and I have to be humble enough to ask for and accept help.

When people on the st
reet ask if I need assis
tance "
like crossing the street
." I will tell them I am

I am not the ZoomText user, but receive this newsletter and assist them in purchasing,
accessing and downloading software. I spend a good bit of time with senior citizens in different
s that are wheel
chair bound or hearing

or sight
impaired. I believe most people make a
genuine offer to assist and if unnecessary leave it at that. Very rarely do I ever see anyone
make multiple requests to assist. Those that have some handicap either a
ccept the assistance
or decline and more often than not go happily about their day. I do make a habit of asking the
handicapped person and their companion, if there is one, because sometimes the companion
wishes some assistance.

John Watts

If it’s a
stranger, I capitalize on the opportunity and introduce myself.

I usually go with “you’re so kind
to offer to help but I need to keep plugging away within my limits.

I’m getting good at it too.

Heck, I
might be helping you soon.

Thanks so much!”

Neal S

When folks want to help (and I don’t need it), I smile and thank them graciously for their
kindness. I try to make a point of telling them that I appreciate it. I think that’s important.

It’s never uncomfortable for me, I have not noticed folks
seem hurt or unappreciated.

When I do need help and folks seem to ignore me, I simply say “excuse me, could you help me,
please?” I have never had a problem in getting assistance when I ask for it.

What I find interesting is

many folks ask what my
service dog does for me. While I don’t mind
explaining, I find it fascinating that the people never ask me that question when I am using my
white cane. Somehow, a service dog isn’t viewed in the same light as other tools (such as
canes, wheelchairs).

first, I was surprised someone would ask that question; but now I am accustomed to it and it
doesn’t offend me as people seem to be genuinely interested.

I just use my regular line of, "Thanks, but I got it"! I always use this same line and after a while
became habit and now it just rolls off of my lips without me thinking about it. Which I think has
cut down on any hesitation that I might have

otherwise had refusing help.

When people offer to help me but I don’t need help my response depends on the p
erson. If I
can get their attention and they seem to listen I thank them sincerely for their willingness to be
helpful and then ask them for some help I actually do need instead of what they are trying to do.
If I don’t need anything else then I explain
that to maintain my independence it is important to
me to do all the things I can do for myself and that this is one of those things I need to do for

If I cannot get the person to listen to me then I will often allow them to help me with what they
want to and I thank them. I don’t want to discourage them from helping others.

I try not to discourage people from helping but to encourage them to ask what help I might need.
I tell people I know what kinds of help I might need because I find it helps t
hem feel more at

they know what kinds of help to offer me.

I have had lots people ask me do you need some help I have said yes and people always seem
very happy to help in that instance, when I say

I can handle mos
t are fine with it you can see
a little they

are let down
but you thank them and they

up some are more

and that
can make you mad if someone asks are you sure you don’t want help you have to

be nice and
just say again no

m fine thank you my visual impairment is not notic
eable and the hard part is
explaining to someone I need help they look at me like you don’t look blind or sometimes even
say that my favorite response to you don’t look blind at times has been wow you did n
t look
stupid either but only in certain cases bu
t for the most part people are kind and willing to help
and that’s good it takes a lot to say help me in a society where being indep
dent is so
important to everyone’s self
esteem but it is all good and you just keep on keeping on thanks to
veryone who h
as helped me especially

in air
ports my god that’s the one place I am so very lost

Quite often, well
intentioned people want to “grab” my arm and lead me where they think I need
to go. Knowing that their intentions are good and not wanting to hurt thei
r feelings, I usually stop
and change it so I am holding on to them, saying “it works best for me if I can hold you as you
lead me to….” This generally works and still lets them feel helpful.

JoAnn Carey

I try and take it on a case by case basis. Depend
ing on the circumstance and the demeanor of
the person wanting to help, as well as the length of time it would take to simply hear them and
out and politely thank them.

If it seems like it's going to be a 5
minute conversation at the end of which I would s
imply say
"no thank you", I would often pre
empt this by explaining I don't require their help. If it's a much
more matter
fact thing which is likely to only take 30 seconds of my time, I will sometimes let
them offer their help, but not feel bad in th
en declining.

I think the most important thing to keep in mind is the kind intention of the person offering
assistance. We don't want to make them feel silly for offering, as it may impact others in the
future. And of course, it costs
us nothing to be ni
ce about it.

The other day I was on a train using my iPhone with Voiceover turned on and the screen curtain
engaged (which turns off the display,

to anyone watching as though my phone was
locked. I had headphones plugged in at the time, and the
woman sitting next to me saw me
doing a flurry of gestures on the phone and started trying
to tell me how to use my phone!

Rather than be rude or tell her to mind her own business, in this case, I simply unplugged the
headphones so that Voiceover was
coming out of the speaker, and kept doing what I was doing.
I figured she would realize that I was in fact not "stranded" as to how to use my phone, and I
wouldn't have to explain accessibility products and how they are sometimes accessed in a
different w
ay to how a sigh
ted person would use a device.

She seemed to get the message.

Another example was going to get on a train, and the platform announcements weren't working,
and could not see the monitor which says which train it arriving. I asked someone w
hat train it
was and explained I couldn't read the monitors. They then wrongly assumed I didn't know
where I was going and wanted to know my destination. I explained politely that I knew how to
get where I was going, bu
t couldn't read the train name.

was not offended that I didn't require detailed travel instructions, and of course his heart was
in the right place, even though I did not ask for help i
n getting to where I was going.

My grandfather who had the same condition as me, however, would get ver
y upset if someone
assisted him without his asking for it. My father once tried to assist my grandfather in crossing
an intersection, and he just took his arm and started guiding him across the street. When they
got to the other side, my grandfather, pra
ctically seething with rage, said "don't you EVER do
that again!

I want help crossing somewhere, I'll take your arm.
But don't ever just grab mine!"

Perhaps he was more upset as it was a relative who he knew well as oppo
sed to a complete
stranger whe

you might tend to err more on the side of politeness. But it's a good reminder to
those of us who work in the blindness and low vision sector that there are many types of people,
and whether we're offering the assistance or being offered it, we should
never make
assumptions. We
should ask so as not to offend!

Hope this is helpful,


For the first case, it depends on my relationship to the person. If it's someone I know, usually a
smile and a gentle reminder or a joke is enough. I often use the p
hrase, "If you don't run into
anything, I won't run into anything" when I am following someone. Often "thanks, I'm good" is

When dealing with well
meaning strangers, I always try to be gracious and say, "Thank you, but
I'm fine. If I need assista
nce, I promise I'll ask." This seems to work most of the time. On the
rare occasions when someone won't let it go, sometimes I just let them help me as long as
they're trying to help me do something I really wanted to do so they'll be satisfied and move
If people take offense and make some unkind remark, I ignore it (despite enormous temptation
not to). I've found that a polite refusal followed by accomplishing the task without assistance is
enough to help people learn. It also seems to give them s
tories to tell about this amazing blind
person they met who "can just do anything!"

I find it's very rare to have people ignore a confident and polite request for help. What is most
important is to know exactly what you need someone to do, that way they d
on't freak out
because they have to solve a problem they don't know anything about, they just have to follow
simple instructions. It is vital to keep things short and simple.

I feel it's important to use these situations as teaching opportunities. Someti
mes it does get
tedious having to do it over and over, but increasing awareness and knowledge will benefit
everyone in the long run.

To decline help I don’t need, I just try to be as polite as possible. I say, “That’s OK, thanks. I can
handle it,” and I m
ake sure to smile. If someone is very insistent, which is rare, I usually let them
help me if it’s not going to inconvenience me too much. Even if it means I have to swallow my
pride a bit, I figure it’s better to smile and say, “Thank you,” than hurt the
feelings of someone
who obviously isn’t understanding I can do things for myself.

People generally respond well if I project confidence in everything else I’m doing. If I look lost or
confused, they’re naturally going to offer help. But if I look like I kn
ow what I’m doing (even if I
don’t), they won’t feel too bad about backing off.


Grace Strother

I say...thanks for offering to help but I can handle this one. If they are too busy to help me I say
excuse me are you busy? I need some help please.


It certainly can be uncomfortable as my sight diminishes for my friends to know when and when
not to assist me. I have found that smiling with genuine gratitude for them is a great start when
they try to grab my arm to assist me. I typically then sa
y, “Thanks for your caring. I DO
appreciate you watching out for me, but I feel confident with my cane right now. Would you
mind if I need some help, if I ask you for it? Also if you see something I don’t hear, like an
electric car, will you tell me to
stop or feel free to tell me I should take your arm?”

Most of my friends love the training and they pay close attention to my request without feeling

The first thing that I realize is that the person has the best of intentions.

If I really

don't need
help I will generally say "No thank you I believe I can do this on my own."

Of course it is

if I fail or they walk away and I then find that I need the help after all, but that just
goes with the territory.

Sometimes I need the
help and there is nobody around to help and that leads to a real feeling of
desperation and abandonment.

I am both legally blind and in a wheelchair, so a lot of people offer to help me do things. But
there are also a lot of people who know that some people prefer not to be helped. The easy part
is that I let people help if it won't do any harm. There was tha
t one incident where a woman
almost slammed the car door on my legs, but those are rare. The more difficult answer is if no
one offers help, but I need it. Not being able to see their faces, I don't know much about what's
going on around me. Saying "Excuse

me." to someone will usually make them think they're in
your way. But if their back is to you, there's not much choice. If I can attract their attention, I half
raise my hand with index finger pointing up. It generally works. People like to help, they're
not sure if they should.

The sighted community has a gross lack of understanding of individuals with sight impairment.

How you would handle the issue of accepting or rejecting help will depend on whether or
not you know the individual offering it.


you use a cane or guide dog, and the individual is a stranger, the best way of dealing with the
issue is to be gracious. Just because one individual doesn't require that assistance at the time
doesn't mean others or even yourself in the future may or may
not need it.

Each circumstance is unique. I usually just say thank you so as not to offend anyone or reduce
my chances of having assistance offered the future when I may need it.

Friends and family are quite different. You need to start by thoroughly expla
ining your visual
capabilities and informing them that should you need assistance you will ask for it.

Be sure to explain that vision related issues can change on a daily basis.

Still be gracious should the individual offer assistance when you don't need i
t. For example say,
Thank you I believe I am ok for now, if I need your assistance in a little while can I ask you for
it? I want to be able to do as much independently as I can for as long as I can.

The one thing we do not want to do is close the door on
getting assistance when we need it. We
already face enough adversities.

Liz Young

This is a hard question to answer I know that I struggle with this often. When a person ask me if
I need any help if I do need help at that moment then I say yes please I s
ure would appreciate it
a whole lot, and they are very friendly and are happy to help me. If I don't need the help then I
say to the person thank you very much but I'm ok but I do appreciate you willing to help me very
much and if the person ask if I am s
ure I say yes I'm fine thanks away and I hope you have a
blessed day and they usually take it ok. Now there are times when someone will come up from
behind and grab me by the arm and that really makes me mad not to mention scares me to
death. I tell that

person don't ever do that to a blind person or to anyone even if the person isn't
blind and that I don't appreciate being grabbed like that and that it scared me I tell them that so
they will understand why they should never do that to anyone. Sometimes

the person gets
upset and I feel like so be it but don't ever do that again. I ask the person how would you like it
if someone came from behind and grabbed you by your arm and started pulling on you? That
makes the person stop and think and say, yes you

are right I didn't think of it like that. Then the
person would ask if there is anything they can do to help me and if I don't need it I thank them
for wanting to help me and I tell them to have a wonderful day. I don't always feel bad about
telling the
m if I am ok and don't need any help because I want them to know that even though I
am blind that I can get around just fine on my own and don't always need help but when I do
need it I have no problem at all asking for it; it beats getting lost or even hu

Susan Sumler

This question comes up in college a lot, especially to disability services. There were times
where I wasn't given assistance I did need because I didn't accept assistance in other areas
they felt I should have taken advantage of.

As an example, before th
e laws started in early 2000, whenever I would ask for assistance
getting information off the blackboard, they would say "well you didn't use our CCTV to read
your textbooks so we're not going to allow you assistance with the blackboard either". As a
ial, I used to get so frustrated with that, for at the time I had enough sight to read a small
print textbook with corrective eyeglasses but have never been able to see the board, even back
in the days when I had 20/100 I couldn't, even from the teacher’s
desk I couldn't, so it was
always frustrating. A lot of times, professors would write tests on the board, and they would
expect me to be able to get it off the board myself even if it meant walking right up to the board,
which believe me they made me attem
pt to do several times because they refused to give me a
hard copy and no one from class was allowed to help because it was a test, according to the

Wasn't until 2007 when the laws finally changed, and I was finally told about something really
ol called a 'notetaker' who was hired by disability services to take notes for me during class,
someone from the class itself. I was never told about any of that until 2007, by then I had failed
so many MS
DOS classes that even if I had retaken them all w
ith straight A's, the numbers to
those classes change over time due to MS
DOS to windows changeover, and colleges won't
accept the new numbers or count those old classes as W's instead of R's, so with 102 credits
out of 60 required for an associate’s degre
e, I never got it even after going thru the graduation
ceremony 8 times, because of that. And there's no way for me to go back to get one without
going to a different college, so I know this situation well and know how frustrating it is.

The simple answe
r, is most people are proud of the fact I try to do as much as I can without
assistance, and only ask for it if needed. I think that’s easier to do with strangers than it is family
because family wants to do everything for you, baby you, while strangers or

friends that are not
family, are more willing to meet you half way.

In fact my wife and I are afraid to have children because since we're both partials, we're afraid
her mother will want to take it away from us using the excuse we're both blind to prove
we can't
be fit parents.

I also think in some instances it’s easier to appear totally blind when accepting help because the
general public doesn't understand the difference between 20/20 and total blindness, so when
you ask for help, they'll only help you

if they think your total, which is where the white cane
helps a lot. I have no problems at all accepting more help then I need from strangers because
it’s not like I'll ever see them again really, but my really close friends, they don't have to ask me,
hey know when I need help and when I don't just by observing me. But if its someone you’re
not close to don't worry about it. It’s better to accept help and not really need it, then to get no
help at all when you really do need it. Most people don't unde
rstand the difference between
20/20 and total darkness, so don't even try to explain it, just whip out that white cane, and if
someone tries to help you, accept any help you can get, it’s better than not getting help at all
believe me, I face that every ti
me I go to the grocery store, I don't like someone walking around
the whole store with me, but I like help available when I need it. I don't need someone to go
around the whole store with me when I know where 90% of the items are located, so I do what I
an, if they don't help you complain to a manager, but most people in general are proud that we
can do as much as we can on our own. Main thing is to be patient and assertive. Remember
most of us have never had 20/20 vision before, we can't even relate to
what it’s like to be able to
see all the traffic lights 5 blocks down the street, as a partial since birth I can't even imagine
what that must be like, what seeing that good would even look like, ya know? but we don't have
to understand it for we can cros
s streets with our hearing or we can see them close up, so does
it matter if we can't see the traffic lights 5 blocks down the street? No, so it shouldn't matter so
long as we cross them safely, and that’s the attitude you must have about all this in gene
There is a way to do anything you want to do, just a matter of learning to do it differently, and if
you need help along the way, if they really see you need help people in general will help you.
It’s just some people only think of themselves, or wit
h us a lot of times as partials they think
we're faking it, so I think the first step is to show you really do need assistance, and to do as
much as you can on your own so they understand what it is you need help with. Once I figured
that out I haven't ha
d any problems since.

Tom Coburn