Interaction tips (from blind POV) 2018-11-19

You can see me, but I can't see you

I should be very easy to recognize, 'cause I'm probably the only person walking around with both a white support stick and a long white guide cane.

Unless there is no bright light in my field of view, I probably can't see you. I might not know you're there even if you're looking at me, and may not realize that you're talking to me if you say something in my general direction unless you use my name.


My blindness limits my ability to add myself to conversations, discover people & things, etc.

However, I do like talking, making friends, learning new things, etc. So if you see me, please come up and introduce yourself, invite me to something, let me know about cool stuff in the area, or the like. I don't bite (unless you ask me very nicely).

I generally like hugs, skritches, etc., but always ask first. If you like such things too, please tell me explicitly, 'cause I'm probably not able to pick up on your body language cues.


The are a lot of things we could talk about. Hopefully my essays, presentations, legal work, conlanging, etc. give some nice crunchy topics of mutual interest. I'm also very interested in learning what I don't know I don't know, so if there's something that you think is interesting, please bring it up!

Let's please talk about something other than blindness (unless it's in the context of my talk or workshops, if you have related feedback or proposals, or you're also blind). This is especially true if I've just given a talk, workshop, or Q&A about blindness — those will probably saturate my tolerance for that particular topic.

Please understand that I generally will not want to discuss my personal medical issues except with friends. Even if I'm educating you about blindness, I'm not opening myself up to interrogation.

I don't want to be "token blind person", nor inspiration porn. The fact that I can navigate, do aikido, etc without sight is not special. Please don't be weird about it.

Blind courtesy tips

You do not need to get out of my way or the like when I'm walking around, and I prefer you don't. I can navigate around you just fine.

If you cough, talk, scuff your feet, or the like, it'll help me know you're there and walk around you. If you're quiet, I'll probably hit you in the foot with my guide cane. It doesn't hurt, but may startle you. If I'm queuing behind you, I'll probably maintain gentle contact with your foot with my cane so I know when to move.

I can deal with almost all obstacles by myself. However, please do let me know about

  • fragile or spillable objects at ground level that'd be damaged by being stepped on or hit with a cane (e.g. electronics, drinks, silent toddlers); and
  • objects with substantial projections above ground level that I might hit with my face before my cane (e.g. signs, vehicle gates, tensile barriers, tree branches, some kinds of sculpture, guy lines).

Do not:

  • cut across me in front (you'll trip and tangle my cane)
  • grab me or my cane, or move any of my things, without my express consent
    • ... unless I'm about to actually hurt myself or someone else
    • Walking into walls, tables, etc (especially with my cane) is necessary and intentional.
  • move things in my environment without telling me (it fucks with my object permanence)
  • walk away without telling me (I'll end up talking to the air)
  • expect me to notice visual cues (including your pointing)

For longer interactions, I would be more comfortable if I am in a darker environment (with no bright lights in my field of view) and sitting down.