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6/27/12

Pay Attention!

  On my school blog ( you can read more by clicking on that link)I wrote a post on coding, adding "alternate text", which isn't  for the general population, but for those who have a sight impairment; sightless, color blind, macular degeneration, or gradual loss of eyesight.  Which ever the case may be, there are certain details to be aware of when keying in text set aside for this type of disability. Which in turn helps with how they "read" their websites through the devices made for them.  Even with those devices there are dos and don't s.

Recently, I was lying by the pool, chatting with a friend, who lost her sight at the age of 22 from diabetes.
Slowly, over time, I've been able to get to know her, know her personality, her likes and dislikes and am still not there yet.  Are we ever anyway with the friends we have?

 Sharing the sun in a spectacular setting under the fluffy clouded blue sky we talked about everything. Well I suppose I talked a lot more (For some reason I've been "Chatty Cathy" lately and felt the need to talk, incessantly.)
Needless to say, I not only came away with a little more sun than planned, but even better than that, information we all need to know.  In between bouts of my chatter we ended up on the subject most familiar to her.

We'd been discussing frustrations with the general population on how  people with disabilities are treated.  Sometimes, what we think is the right thing to do, may not be.
 My own personal thought is we have become so politically correct in so many ways, especially the relabeling for someone being blind that we tend to step on toes to remember the correct terminology, but forget the needs of those standing right in front of us.

 She  Ginger, gave me some examples; the first, she pointed out how different every Starbucks is, how there is no general layout to the store.  We see the counter and head for it.   But where is the counter when you are sightless and everything is random.
Recently, she went in a Starbucks,she said she knew she was being stared at because the usual loud hum decreased almost immediately.  She knew all eyes were on her but know one reacted.  She couldn't let her guide dog lead, because he didn't know where.  Know-one not even the counter help, walked up to her and asked her if she needed anything.  Consequently they lost a customer.  Sensitivity was needed here.  Do you really think she would have been offended at being approached?  How often does this happen? I really wonder.

 Hold that thought for moment,  we'll  talk about the lack of customer service for all of us, you don't have to have a disability to know it's there.
Sales clerks,so few and far between are overworked, underpaid,  stand all day with the exception of their breaks and they're generally treated badly.  If that wasn't enough  there are some who haven't a clue how to treat a customer.  Cell phones seem to take precedence, but that's the responsibility of the parent and the owner/boss. 

Have you noticed how jammed the racks of clothing are in most of the department stores?
It' has to be scarey for a child in a stroller, what about he confusion for the guide dog?  So many things to think about.  Sensitivity training needs to start somewhere.  If we can see what needs to be done, there are those who need our help in changing what they can't see, where there is a problem.


I recently read a post from the Nienie Dialogues.  If you've never heard of this blog, you need to go directly there  and inhale.  It'll give you another kind of perspective in another form of sensitivity training.  It'll make you appreciate or at least it should, this moment.   I like to think I learn something every day or at least every other.  I learned something  on this post. 
Even more on this one. 
Click to go to Nienie
Stephanie Nielson, wrote a book, Heaven is Here .  Go there and read an excerpt on her book, and understand how it feels if you can.  It's a stretch you know, to say you can imagine what it's like to be in someone else s shoes.  But really, we can't.  We may give it a good try but we never will ever really know what it's like to be in someone else s situation but we can empathize, we can reach out, we can be sensitive, we can try to change a wrong.  


Stephanie Nielsen was invited to the Sundance Resort Author Series   .  What an honor.


The bottom line is we all need to be sensitive to each others needs as well as our own, we need to look up and see what's around us and for those that can-should.  For those that can't then we need to step out and be their eyes as well, or their ears, arms, legs, etc.  If we don't know how to approach a situation then go to the source.  For Ginger, if I didn't have her to talk to about this, then my next resource would be The Lighthouse.  Ask questions, many places hold classes, information groups, or tours, or would be glad to speak with you if the other things aren't available.  It hurts more to approach a situation without the education.  
Long after the burns are healed there are other scars you cannot see. 

 Be sensitive.  








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