Being visually challenged prevents a person from making use of one of the most important senses. And yet despite the host of challenges, with practice of blindness skills and availability of facilities for the differently-abled, many blind people are able to lead a fulfilling life. So if you are thinking of asking someone nice who happens to be blind or are already dating a visually challenged person, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Learn to deal with others’ reactions
At the very outset, learn to deal with negative reactions from some people around you. When you are out with a blind person, you may have to get used to stares and whispers since not everyone understands that being different is not a sign of inferiority. Worse still, comments from apparently well-meaning friends or relatives can sound harsh and insensitive when they admire you for taking on the “burden” of a relationship with a blind person. You will either have to simply ignore such insensitive remarks or take your partner’s cue and deal with them as he/she does.
Be prepared to make adjustments
However all the sensitivity in the world cannot make you wish away certain limitations that dating a blind person will involved. For instance there will always be reliance on public transport to get around and you cannot expect your partner to agree to meet you any time, any place at ten minute’s notice. Also when planning dating activities, you have to keep in mind what your partner will and will not enjoy – like instead of going for a tour of your city museum or a classy art gallery, get tickets to a concert or a musical performance for your date. Most recreational sports, like bowling or mini-golfing, will be out of the question though your date may be a good swimmer and an avid jogger. Likewise find out beforehand if the venue has facilities for the visually challenged like maybe brochures in Braille or a washroom which he/she can use independently.
Explore other senses
Even though you cannot plan a date around a visual experience like watching a movie or ballet performance, there are still many senses that you can explore with your partner. For instance spending a balmy day at a park or a garden will not only enable the sighted partner to partake of the fantastic colors and designs of the flowers and trees but also allow the visually challenged to take delight in the fragrances of the blossoms as well as the fresh feel of the outdoors. Similarly you can sign up for sculpture or pottery classes for couples where you and your partner can have fun experimenting with the texture and shape of the clay or other materials instead of focusing only its looks like in painting. Again karaoke bars and dance clubs are other places where you can have an enjoyable date with someone who cannot see well or at all since it is enough to feel the rhythm with the ears and the body for you to get grooving.
The exploration of other senses is particularly relevant if you want to come off as attractive to your partner. For a blind person it is not so important that your hair is perfectly styled or that your scarf goes with your jacket. Rather you should choose and wear perfumes which will appeal to your partner. Come dressed in soft and smooth fabrics like velvet and good quality wool which you partner is likely to touch and feel nice about. Grooming essentials like avoiding bad breath and body odor are as relevant while dating a blind person as when dating a sighted person.
Respect your partner
If you are interested in getting to know your partner well, you will have to learn certain ways of moving about with a visually challenged person; even though many of them don’t need to depend on a sighted person for help if they have access to readers, have good Braille and cane travel skills, still it is best if you aware of how the right way to communicate with them. When you are out with your date, don't push or pull them in the direction you assume they want to go. Ask them if you can help them find the way or what they are looking for. Sometimes it's enough to tell the person where to go, using words like "left" or "right", not "here" or "there" since the blind person will probably not know where's "there". Also don't point in a direction, because the person might not see you pointing. instead of leading a blind person directly, it is most usual to let the person grab your elbow with his/her hand. Many blind people will feel what you are doing (e.g. Go down stairs) or they'll feel it with their cane, but sometimes it's appreciated to warn him or her about things like steps. Never grab a blind person's cane to lead him that way. It is not only embarrassing but dangerous for him/her since a blind person uses a cane primarily to feel for obstacles. You can show a blind person a chair or bench on putting his hand on the back or arm. It's not necessary to push someone in the chair which would come off as rude and insensitive.
Also you need to keep a few conversation tips in mind when dating a blind person. It is not necessary to speak extra loud to your partner; most likely he/she has normal hearing and therefore will have no difficulty understanding you. When speaking to a blind or partially sighted person, look directly to them so that they can follow your voice with their eyes and face you. It's not always possible to avoid words like "look" and "see" since they form such an integral part of everyday language but try to whenever you can. at the same time don’t make a big deal about it since it would be rather strange to say "listen television" because the sentence should be "watch television" and a blind person will know what you mean. Some blind people like to talk about their disability, and some do not. It's nicest to ask your date if he/she is comfortable talking about their blindness. When leaving the room, tell the person that you are about to go.
Don’t date for the wrong reasons
Finally avoid dating a blind person out of pity for his/her condition or thinking him/her to be some kind of superhuman since they have overcome such odds. Indeed even some blind people may fall prey to this mistake and start dating sighted partners as a way of relying on them to meet their every need and comfort in life. Thus be honest with both yourself and with your partner so that you don’t date a blind person for the wrong reasons and repent later. make sure you are dating him/her for the same reason you would date a sighted person – for things you find attractive in your partner and not for the state of their eyes.