Meg Casey
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"Most Able Disabled"

Meg Casey's handicapped issues column

Handicap etiquette

Meg Casey
February 2, 1983

Dear reader,

This week I decided to do something a little different with my column and share with you some information I picked up at conference I attended.

The subject matter at these conferences usually deals with advocacy issues of the disabled and range from Special Education and employment to both physical and vocational rehabilitation, the various social services and the latest legislation which will affect the disabled citizenry that is being battled at the state capital or Washington.

And again, as usual, there can be found a table somewhere at the back of the room or just outside of the doorway where all the promotional brochures, leaflets and flyers from all of the sponsoring agencies can be obtained.

It has become my habit to collect all this informative paraphernalia and bring it back home to Milford (to keep up on current events). I happened across a couple of lists on one of my fact-finding missions.

What they amount to is a bit of etiquette. Here’s a list of do’s and don'ts for dealing with a physically disabled or blind person. Don't shout at a person who is blind, his hearing is probably fine.

It's okay to use phrases like "See what I mean?" Or "looking good!" Words like this are incorporated into the English usage, and are just as normal to use with blind people.

If you want help help but don't know quite what to do, ask.

If you think you would like to know one of your fellow students who is blind, go up and introduce yourself, or he'll never know you're there. How should you act with a blind person? Just be yourself, or he’ll never know you’re there.

How should you act to a blind person? Just be yourself! If you think you don’t know how to react to a blind person, remember that some will not know how to react to you, the sighted person.

There are some modifications you should know:

Narrow areas - These may be negotiated by one of two methods. If the space is relatively narrow, just press your arm closer to your body, indicating that it is narrow area. The person you are guiding will draw closer. If a space is so narrow that only one person can pass through at a time, you will place your arm with which you are guiding the blind person in back of you so that the forearm is resting in the small of your back. The blind person will then extend his arm fully and place himself directly behind you. Stair - It is not necessary to count stairs for a blind person. If you pause briefly before ascending or descending it will alert him that a change in motion will occur. Pause again at the end of the stairs so he will know when to stop climbing. It will give him time to catch up to your level. Doorways - When approaching a door, you should position the blind person so that his free hand can hold the door open for you, just as a sighted person would.

Orientations to surroundings - The clock system is used for describing the location of objects in the immediate surroundings. The direction that the blind person is facing will be 12 o’clock. Something directly to his right will be 3 o’clock; to his left will be 9 o’clock; etc. it is convenient - it is easier to say that something is at 1 o’clock than it is to say ”three steps to the right and two to the left.” The clock face can also be used for locating items on a restaurant table or food a plate.

Remember when directing a blind person, not to say "over here" or "that way." When you say "to the right" make sure you mean to his right, not yours. Remember, too that when you are leading a blind person you are navigating with two bodies, not one, and in many cases you need to allow for the extra space needed. It is expected when you are leading a blind person, you are also protecting him from bodily harm.

DVR counselor

Milford Independent Disabled Persons has expanded its services to include counseling by a representative of the state Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Counseling sessions are offered at the MIDP office in the Devon Neighborhood Center, 597 Naugatuck Avenue, Devon.

Jeffrey Moeckel, senior DVR counselor, will be available Monday afternoons. Interested people can call the MIDP office at 783-3282 or the state DVR office in New Haven, 789-7867 for an appointment.

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photographs and other content courtesy of the Casey family unless noted
blog posts and art by Meg Casey
originally published 1982 to 1985 in the Milford Citizen newspaper
Memorable Milford regrets that a political dispute has made it necessary to complete this project without the cooperation of a claimant to the original columns
The original author disdained those only seeking to profit from tragedies.
We did not feel that a disagreement should prevent the public from learning and enjoying these incredible pieces of advice and show they are still relevant to today.