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 19:16:01

Thanks, everyone. This is my first dealing with a person who has a visual impairment and I wanted to make sure that I Did The Right Thing! Or at the very least, that I did not come across as a bumbling oaf who did not know better.

firesidechat Fri 05-Apr-13 19:20:47

My parents have been blind most of their lives, call themselves blind and have never had a problem with anyone using that term.

There was a system of registration for sight impairment. You could be registered as blind or partially sighted, but not sure if that exists now. My mum has always been blind and my dad was partially sighted for a few years until he too was registered blind.

I think people who are trying to be polically correct may see possible offense where none exists. To be honest it's sometimes hard to keep up with what is an acceptable term and what is suddenly considered rude. As far as I can see you were being reasonable in using the word blind.

Guide dogs (my mum has one) still call themselves Guide Dogs for the Blind, by the way.

firesidechat Fri 05-Apr-13 19:23:18

Just read your post again OP and wanted to add that my dad has had a false eye since childhood and has severe scarring in the other eye, so very much like the girl you mention. He is blind rather than partially sighted.

PigeonPie Fri 05-Apr-13 19:25:54

I use the term visual impairment for my DS1's eyesight as it only affects his left eye.

For us the difficulty is that as his sight can't be corrected with glasses it can be difficult to explain to others, especially when he's charging around looking like a sighted 7 year old.

Viviennemary Fri 05-Apr-13 19:42:49

I'd say blind meant having absolutely no vision at all. And people do use that term for no vision at all. Partially sighted used to be acceptable but not sure if it still is,.

ladyofdemanor Fri 05-Apr-13 20:02:46

My Son is visually impaired and yes it is very important to me and indeed others with his genetic condition to term this correctly. It is not a term a political correctness but a definition of visual acuity and the strength of field of vision ths the score of these two things combined means whether a person is severely sight impaired - blind or Vision impaird - partially sighted. Indeed you can be registered blind but have some sight in laymans terms. These are are clearly defined terms and as such be used correctly to me to term this as political correctness is offensive.

MrsGrowbag Fri 05-Apr-13 20:04:41

The legal definitions of sight loss used to be "partially sighted" and "blind" but confusion arose because most people who were registered as "blind" had some sight, for example could see outlines, colours etc. According to the RNIB, only 4% of people registered as "blind" had no sight whatsoever. Similarly, "partially sighted" was misunderstood - for example, you could only have one eye but not be "partially sighted" (people with one eye, as long as it is working correctly, are able to drive). "Blind" people were sometimes accused of not really being blind, eg "he says he's blind but he knew I had a red top on". A few years ago the Registration Process adopted the terms "Sight Impaired" and "Severely Sight Impaired". I used to work with people with sight loss and tbh I don't think it's a matter of the language being changed just for the sake of being Politically Correct, i think it's a genuine attempt to better reflect the experiences of someone who is visually impaired. I don't think anyone would mind you asking which term they would prefer you to use, but, ime, parents of children with some sight, however small, do not like their child being referred to as "blind" with all the connotations and negativity that brings.

PigeonPie Fri 05-Apr-13 20:08:58

Thank you MrsGB, that's extremely helpful.

Why not ask her which term she prefers? Then you will know for sure the right thing to say when referring to this particular person.

TigerseyeMum Fri 05-Apr-13 21:53:50

I think it's best to ask because some people prefer the term VI while others prefer blind because they see the term VI as patronising and an implied criticism of 'being blind'.

As already said, most 'blind' people have vision, some are completely blind and may have been that way from birth.

Therefore for some 'visually impaired' is as offensive as 'hearing impaired'. It's different, not an impairment or some deficit on their part.

I think the term blind, for me and those I know, is more politically correct than VI.

TheChaoGoesMu Fri 05-Apr-13 22:00:33

You do need to ask her. My dh refers to himself as partially sighted. He is registered blind, but back in the 70's the rules were different. These days he would be registered as visually impaired. He has no useful sight, but he can distinguish night from day most of the time. In some light he can see a tiny bit more. He does not like being referred to as being blind.

appletarts Fri 05-Apr-13 22:07:40

It's rude, ignorant, incorrect and hurtful. She is not blind, she has some sight. You might call that blind but you can be sure she makes bloody good use of that little bit of sight she has got. She's no more blind than you are, but probably not as stupid.

treesntrees Fri 05-Apr-13 22:09:58

I know a young woman who has severe Nystagmus (eyes constantly flicker from side to side) she has recently been registered as blind. She does not wear glasses and can read and watch t.v but cannot move in a straight line unless she has a wall beside her to look at. It is unusual but as she lives in a residential home it means that staff know that she has to be accompanied when outside her room.

lougle Fri 05-Apr-13 22:27:46

In what context do you think you'll need to describe the quality of her vision?

I can't think of a situation where you'd need to make the distinction, tbh., so I wonder if you are worrying a bit unecessarily?

My DD, for example, has a brain malformation, but I've never been in a situation (she's 7 now) where the actual name for her condition was necessary to describe her difficulties.

It's rude, ignorant, incorrect and hurtful. She is not blind, she has some sight. You might call that blind but you can be sure she makes bloody good use of that little bit of sight she has got. She's no more blind than you are, but probably not as stupid.

Do you usually respond so charmingly to people asking a well intentioned question?

TigerseyeMum Fri 05-Apr-13 22:58:56

Blind is not a dirty word. And it encompasses a range of visual levels.

It's certainly not stupid to use it, as I said before, most blind people I know prefer to be called blind and would be offended if you called them otherwise.

TheChaoGoesMu Fri 05-Apr-13 23:08:46

most blind people I know prefer to be called blind and would be offended if you called them otherwise

most severely visually impaired people I know do not like being called blind. I seem to know more than average as most of dh's friends are vi. Always good to ask what they prefer if in doubt I think.

ladyofdemanor Fri 05-Apr-13 23:11:47

Here here chaos unfortunately there seem to be a lot of people who seem to have an opinion but very little understanding of the topic.

TigerseyeMum Fri 05-Apr-13 23:13:21

I already pointed that out, thanks.

I'm not going to get into competitive 'I know more blind people than you'therefore I have the definitive answer' because I already pointed out that some prefer VI and some prefer blind.

TheChaoGoesMu Fri 05-Apr-13 23:27:24

I'm not getting into a competition with you either. I live the effects of vi through being with dh and spending time with his friends. Have a little respect, you sound ignorant. Hope this helps.

sashh Sat 06-Apr-13 02:52:35

Personally I hate the 'impaired' bit, it says (IMHO) 'You are are a lesser person than an able bodied person.'

So an imperfect sighted person instead of a perfect blind person.

But then one of my uni lecturers (sadly now dead) would argue he was deaf. He had perfect hearing but both his parents were deaf, his first language was BSL and he identified as a deaf person - with perfect hearing.

Ask what she prefers and use that.

Kytti Sat 06-Apr-13 03:53:20

Visually impaired can often mean blind. Most blind people have some vision. Only a very small minority can see absolutely nothing. It sounds a bit over-PC to me.

Some people who have a hearing impairment much prefer the term 'deaf' because it implies they are missing something instead of gaining many other things. I should imagine that there are some people who have a visual impairment who feel the same way.

But then one of my uni lecturers (sadly now dead) would argue he was deaf. He had perfect hearing but both his parents were deaf, his first language was BSL and he identified as a deaf person - with perfect hearing.

He is identifying as big D Deaf, part of a cultural and linguistic minority, rather than audiologically small d deaf.

Haven't heard of Blind versus blind, but happy to stand corrected.

TheSloppelganger Sat 06-Apr-13 08:37:35

It is a minefield and good on you for trying to 'get it right', there is (unhelpfully) no 'right' though.

One of my exes had very little vision, could only really make out movement, light/dark - and he preferred to be referred to as blind or nearly blind - so nobody would overestimate his capabilities with his very poor vision.

My cousin however, who also has extremely limited eyesight (possibly even worse than my ex) would probably snap your head off if you referred to him as blind, and keeps insisting that he 'just can't see very well'.

Best to ask the person in question (or their parent/guardian) how they prefer to be referred to.

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