Introduction to Working with the Blind
People often feel uneasy when dealing with the disabled. They seem to think that, for some unknown reason, the handicapped are not normal and should be treated differently. Some try to avoid contact while others are patronizing or just feel uncomfortable.
It is not uncommon on meeting someone who is blind to speak to him or her through a third party (a helper, friend or family member) instead of addressing the blind person directly. This could be due to the uncertainty of how to deal with somebody who is blind on confronting them for the first time. It is essential to always converse on a one-to-one basis.
The blind are no different to you and me. They possess the same attributes and frailties as any cross-section of humanity and should be treated accordingly – with mutual respect, friendship and a natural, light-hearted approach.
In coaching blind or partially sighted bowlers, it is essential that they should be encouraged to do whatever they can by themselves, like carrying, and unpacking and re-packing their bowls, in order to promote a heightened sense of independence.
RESPECT THEIR SPACE
It is also extremely important to respect their space. Often one sees a well-meaning helper pushing or pulling the bowler's arm, shoulder or foot. Before making any physical contact with the blind person it is necessary to explain to them what you want to do and receive their acquiescence.
In my 23 years of active involvement with bowls for the blind, I have found that although the blind lack the sense of sight, they ‘see” a tremendous amount and are very aware of what is going on around them. Conversely, we, who are gifted with sight, very often don’t see what is going on under our very noses.