in saying that a child I know who only has very limited vision, blind?

(78 Posts)
Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Fri 05-Apr-13 14:25:04

For all intents and purposes the little girl is in my opinion, blind. She has extremely limited peripheral vision in one eye only, the other eye being a prosthesis.

When I said that she was blind, someone corrected me by saying "visually impaired". Genuine question: is it rude to call someone blind? Is it an offensive term??

AIBU to call someone blind when they are exactly that??

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Fri 05-Apr-13 14:27:51

ARGH! sorry for the typo in the title! I was trying to ask "Is it unreasonable to call a person who is severely visually impaired, blind?"

WilsonFrickett Fri 05-Apr-13 14:28:47

There is, I believe, a specific definition of how bad someone's eyesight has to be before they can be called blind, as in not all visually-impaired people are blind, IYSWIM? Maybe that's what she meant?

greenfolder Fri 05-Apr-13 14:29:06

i dont think so at all, but do not have dc with the problem.

i do, however, have a bil that went blind with diabetes. on all of his medical records it says visually impaired.

on one of his numerous hospital admissions i put a huge sign on his bed that said " i am blind"

after numerous instances of him being left food and not told, not being helped to the bathroom etc etc etc. sometimes the term VI is not enough, even in a sodding hospital

Plumpcious Fri 05-Apr-13 14:30:01

If she has some sight then 'visually impaired' is a more appropriate description. She may well be registered blind though.

HoHoHoNoYouDont Fri 05-Apr-13 14:30:42

Perhaps she's one of those annoying people who just likes to correct people. They annoy the hell out of me, patronising swines.

GreenEggsAndNichts Fri 05-Apr-13 14:31:05

YANBU. A friend of mine is just like this. She calls herself blind.

Visually impaired, that could be anything. I'm visually impaired; I have a very strong prescription in my glasses. Without glasses I am effectively blind, unless I hold something literally an inch from my eyes.

I suppose this might be a political correctness thing, but it's AIBU so I'm sure someone will come along and tell me it's not. smile

TroublesomeEx Fri 05-Apr-13 14:32:19

I don't know.

My daughter is 'hearing impaired'. She refers to herself as 'deaf'.

I think that hearing impaired is more accurate because she can hear, but it's impaired.

But the National Deaf Children's Society use deaf to describe all children with hearing impairment whether or not is it is temporary/permanent and corrected or not.

I don't have a problem with her being referred to as deaf.

So is it that someone didn't feel it was an accurate description of the level of her sight loss or is it that someone objected to the use of the word 'blind' at all.

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Fri 05-Apr-13 14:34:21

Yes, WilsonF, I see what you mean - not all VI are blind, but THIS little girl can see extremely little so she may well be registered blind when she is older.

Greenfolder, that's bloody disgraceful what happened to you BIL!

I have only recently started working with the little girl so lots of things are new to me. I would hate to say the wrong thing hence my question. I was also concerned it was a matter of political correctness, Greeneggs!

VI/visual impairement is the 'correct' term these days. I stick to it as I know it won't cause offence, 'blind' is unlikely to might just might.

BruthasTortoise Fri 05-Apr-13 14:37:35

It depends on whether the child is actually blind or not. If she is severely visually impaired then she is severely visually impaired, if she is blind, she is blind. I think if she is severely visually impaired but has some sight she could be registered as legally blind but not actually be completely blind iyswim.

Blu Fri 05-Apr-13 14:42:18

I know about 3 people who are visually impaired (including 2 gude dog users) and they call themselves visually impaired.

MooncupGoddess Fri 05-Apr-13 14:42:18

I think 'visually impaired' is more accurate, as she can presumably see a bit of movement etc. Lots of people assume that 'blind' means someone has no vision at all or can only see light and dark so it is potentially confusing in this case.

As always in these situations, though, it really depends what term the girl and her parents prefer to use.

TallyGrenshall Fri 05-Apr-13 14:43:24

My Dad is severely visually impaired (detatched retina, glaucoma, tunnel vision, no night sight, very limited periphal vision) carries a white stick but he hates being called blind. He says that he can see, not much but he can see so he is not blind

I suppose it depends on what the person perfers

happyfrogger Fri 05-Apr-13 14:46:18

Same situation as Folkgirl.

My daughter is hearing impaired / deaf. Sometimes it feels like I'm being a bit precious if I've referred to the fact as my DD as 'HI' - it can be far easier to just say she's deaf. It often depends on who the conversation is, why they need to know and what mood I'm in smile.

I will often get unfairly narky when people ask me if my daughter is deaf and respond with 'no, she has hearing aids so she can hear, she just needs help.' (usually only when preceded with 'oh what a shame')

Whilst there may be specific 'limits' at what point someone is classified as blind (I don't know), I find it's a personal preference IME of how people like to refer to themselves.

In answer to your question, it probably depends on the context of your conversation and who you were talking to.

GreenEggsAndNichts Fri 05-Apr-13 14:46:57

yes Tally I think that about sums it up. Use the term the person is happy with.

I think 'blind' is a quick way to alert people to the condition. My friend tells new acquaintances she's blind so they know to alert her when they see her in town. She's not completely blind, but I don't know the particulars. It's not really my business; 'blind' was a good enough explanation for me. grin

Moominsarehippos Fri 05-Apr-13 14:46:58

With eyesight, you can be 'blind' and have some 'sight' (shadows, colours...).

It sounds a bit 'PC' to say visually impared. My sister can't see out of one eye at all, so is blind in that eye, not 'visually impared', although overall, she is probably visually impared.

If you tell someone that you are blind (or have a degree of blindness), rather than visually impared, you won't get the follow up tedious question 'so what can you see?' 'Can you see that over there?' 'Can you read' etc etc etc. Doesn't colour blindness come under 'visual imparement'?

PenelopePipPop Fri 05-Apr-13 14:48:49

I think both terms are correct for some people some of the time. So as others have said it really depends on what the little girl and/or her parents feel is a better description.

I have epilepsy and hate the word fit being applied to my seizures. I don't have convulsions. I have complex partial seizures which mean I stop talking and sometimes behave oddly. Calling that a fit seems weird to me and I feel quite sensitive about it (I wouldn't be rude to anyone who made the error the first time, but family and friends know to use the word seizure not fit). I know people who have convulsions who much prefer the word 'fit' to 'seizure' because it more accurately describes their experiences and obviously I would respect that if talking about them.

I think it would matter if she herself (or her family) is upset at the term 'blind' - you might be, you might almost use the term 'visually impaired' to cling to the little sight you had left.

Otherwise - I suppose it's possible the person you were talking to was thinking of a situation where it'd matter? Eg. if she could see light and dark but not shapes, that could matter in some circumstances.

Or perhaps they were just being a bit picky. Dunno.

Frettchen Fri 05-Apr-13 14:49:39

It's tricky; 'blind' is a much more widely recognised term than 'visually impaired' or 'partially sighted'.

I work for a disability charity and we often talk about 'blind and partially sighted people', so I would generally call the girl the OP was referring to 'partially sighted'. But we do use 'visually impaired' just as much, especially within the organisation.

Calling someone 'blind' isn't offensive if they are blind, but as this girl has some vision left, even if it is very little, maybe she/her parents would prefer to use the term 'visually impaired'.

It's probably a matter of preference. Some people might object to 'blind', especially if they do have some retained vision.

weblette Fri 05-Apr-13 14:50:48

My sister is a rehab officer for a large charity working with visually impaired students. She never uses the term 'blind' as it isn't factually correct. VI more accurately describes their varying degrees of sight.

Naoko Fri 05-Apr-13 14:55:09

Well it's inaccurate, she's not blind, she has some vision. I don't know if YABU though because I'd always use the term the person (or in the case of a very young child, the parents) themselves prefers.

My best friend is very severely visually impaired. Like the little girl you know she has one prosthetic and extremely limited vision in the other eye. She's fine with being described as 'visually impaired' or 'almost blind', but not with 'blind', because she isn't.

trinity0097 Fri 05-Apr-13 15:03:34

Not unite the same, but I worked in a school with a unit for the hearing impaired, and one of the previous pupils now worked for the school, he was quite happy to be called deaf rather hearing impaired. We always had 'deaf mince pies' around Christmas where the deaf children would bake mince pies to sell in the staff room for a deaf charity abroad.

Personally for me impaired to me means that you have some vision/hearing, so I need strong glasses and might say that I'm visually impaired not blind as I can see, but if someone has really bad eyesight then they are blind not impaired.

I think that often the people who have the disability don't really care, but it's others who get all PC about what to call it/them.

TheChaoGoesMu Fri 05-Apr-13 16:43:04

She's not blind, she has a visual impairment. So you would be unreasonable to call her blind. Unless that is how she wants it described.

I did an Audio Description course and the terminology used was "visually impaired" and "visually impaired person" (VIP). I don't think the word "blind" is considered offensive amongst the VI community though.

On the other hand, "hearing impaired" IS offensive to the Deaf BSL using community.

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