Happy Halloween! What are some of your Halloween memories? Did you trick or treat, go to parties, or dress up? A few of my past costumes have included a chicken, a scarecrow, a cat, Pocahontas and Harry Potter, just to name a few. I used to trick or treat when I was younger, and after Mom checked it, my sister and I would swap some of our candy. During one of my later years at Perkins one of the staff took a few of us trick or treating which was wicked nice of her. One of my funniest Halloween memories as a kid was the year I dressed up as Harry Potter and my best friend at the time dressed up as a Pepsi can. He said that the steps at this particular house were really big so he got candy for both of us. The guy who opened the door took a look at me and said, “It must be pretty hard to see with those shades on, huh?” Peter and I got a good laugh, told him those were Harry Potter glasses and that I actually couldn’t see. He felt so bad. We told him it was okay and that we thought it was hilarious. I’d also like to hear from my followers in other countries. Tell me about what Halloween is like in your country. One last thing about Halloween before we move on to today’s post. While 2020 happened and everything is different this year, like with anything, I believe Halloween should be accessible for everyone, so that if they participate a little bit or go all out, they can if they want to. I saw a video a while ago where Molly Burke, (look her up if you haven’t, she’s one of the bigger names as far as advocates for blindness is concerned) and she talked about how she was left out of trick or treating when she was younger so she thought about going in her twenties. Moving on… Did you know October is meet the blind month? Lots of people have posted about this, but I thought I would share my own version. Some of these things might be obvious, but not to everyone, so we need to discuss them.
- Everyone says this, but really it’s true. We’re just like you. It’s crazy how often blind people have to either come right out and directly or indirectly say we’re normal. I hope the next generation of blind kids can grow up, attend college or work and not constantly have to prove that, “I really am normal. See?”
- . Not every blind person is the same. For some reason sighted folks have a hard time with this one unless they’re really educated and after all this time, I’m still not really sure why. We have different beliefs. We all like different music. We all have different things we do as blind people that work for us.
- . I can’t believe I still have to say this, but I feel like as blind people we’re always going to have to say this. Despite what movies tell you, blind people don’t go around feeling people’s faces. And if they do and there’s not a wicked good reason, tell them it’s not acceptable. Even if someone has a good reason, that’s very rare.
- . It’s okay to use every day language. This is another of those really hard things for sighted people to wrap their head around. I get people don’t want to be offensive, but let the blind person decide what’s offensive and what isn’t. You decide what’s offensive for you and let us make that decision for ourselves, please. It’s fine to use every day words like look, see and watch. Did you see that? I’m smiling because you and I are finally on the same page about this! Look! We’re all good. ❤
- . This is another really big one that I feel like as blind people we’re probably going to spend our whole lives explaining to people. If you see a blind person alone at a table, we don’t bite. I promise. Come up to us, say hi, and if you’re going around mingling, bring us along. It’s hard for blind people to mingle with people without being guided and people often misunderstand that as blind people are antisocial. One of my lifelong friends put it best when she told a college class I spoke to when she said, “Get over yourself”. As awkward as you might feel, inclusion feels good for everyone, doesn’t it? I see you agreeing over there. =)
- . Joking about blindness is perfectly fine once you learn how open the person is about it. My friends and I joke about my blindness all the time. I know you sighted people might find this really hard to wrap your head around, but believe it or not, I joke about blindness with my blind friends, too. My sighted friends, my blind friends, it doesn’t matter. If something isn’t okay, we’ll tell you. Promise.
- . Blind people are more than their white cane. Some blind people use guide dogs and others use white canes. I wish more people understood this cane thing. Shout out to the few people at college who actually didn’t care about it. The people I worked best with were the ones who cared but didn’t care at the same time. I’m blind. I’m not stupid and I’m not something pretty to make you feel good when you need to feel better. This applies to any blind person you meet.
- . Let’s talk about over there. Is that a foreign land? To a blind person it might as well be. Blind people don’t know what over there means. Take the time to learn how to direct someone by saying things like, to your left, to your right, straight in front of you, or behind you a little to the left or to the right.
- . Blindness has different degrees of what that looks like for someone. Somebody might be visually impaired which means they have some sight but not all of it. Some of us have no eyesight and are totally blind. Please get comfortable with calling blindness what it is. If someone is visually impaired, fine, but if somebody is blind, they’re not visually impaired, they are blind. People need to get comfortable with saying it out loud. I’ll help, here. My friend is blind. My employee is blind. My girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband is blind. I have a blind student in my class.
- . Blindness doesn’t mean stupidity. Disability or not, we all need help, and that’s okay. I will never, ever understand why people think blind people aren’t smart. I’ll give the example I always give. If sighted people in college help one another on a paper, that’s okay. If someone does that very same thing for a blind person, how dare they! That’s always been so crazy to me!
- . Please tell a blind person when you are leaving them. Talking to yourself can be pretty funny but also pretty awkward.
- . I could say so much more about this, but I’ll end with this. If a blind person takes your help, they need it. I know for me, I sometimes took help when I needed it but sometimes particularly when it was a young person, (kids through college,) I let them help me. We need to teach people to think outside themselves and that disability isn’t always scary. Sometimes the other person gets something from the giving. That said, if we happen to refuse your help, please respect us. We’re not being rude. Sometimes helping a blind person can actually throw them off because they have learned certain landmarks they use to help them travel.
I hope this taught you something, and I really hope you share this. If you learned a thing or two today, tell someone about it.
Stay safe and stay healthy. Wear a mask. They save lives.