STOP (Meeting a Blind Person, pt. 2 of 5)

Yesterday, I introduced you to the acronym SALE, which stands for Stop, Ask, Listen, Evaluate.

Let’s start with STOP. Why STOP? Because it’s easy for any of us to push the panic button.

“Oh, no! That guy’s walking toward the fountain that’s turned off—he’s gonna fall!”

“He’s approaching a curb and the walk sign’s letting traffic beside him go. But he’s stopping. He’s lost.”

“Oh, boy. He’s overshot the lectern when needing to read from it. Time to get up and race to his side lest he falls.”

Truth is we all make those assumptions about each other, blind or sighted. So, STOP allows us to pause and observe. Is that guy slowing down when five feet from a four-foot drop-off or is he cruising fast? Is his cane tapping in front of him, or is his dog alert when approaching a curb? Is he typing away in a cubicle at work (using a quick-navigation cursor) or is he pausing to think on his next task?

A friend of mine who’s a chess master speaks of knowing what your opponent is doing to you before you calculate an attacking combination. When a pastor sees an unfamiliar face coming to the communion rail, he must stop to see if that person is alone or with faithfully communing members before asking any precautionary questions regarding that person’s worthiness to receive the body and blood of Christ.

In other words, STOP cools that boiling shot of adrenaline that clouds our internal vision with assumptions that can turn out to be unintentionally disrespectful. And we who are totally blind or visually impaired won’t feel smothered or diminished; we won’t need to put up impulsive defenses, or be left with a sense of inadequacy. It allows us to maintain our personal dignity and self-confidence, something that sighted individuals often take for granted.