How to interact with a visually-impaired person
The President of the Associació Discapacitat Visual Catalunya: B1+B2+B3 (ADVC), Manel Martí, gave the Institut de la Màcula’s full care team a training session on 11 February. The aim was to publicise the Association and the services it offers
A number of causes can produce visual impairment, a situation in which both the person affected and those close to them should be able to engage and deal with. The support team of the Institut de la Màcula, as a benchmark centre, also needs to be aware of this in their daily work.
With this in mind, Manel Martí, the President of the Associació Discapacitat Visual Catalunya: B1+B2+B3 (ADVC), provided a training session to the full medical and care team of the Institut de la Màcula on 11 February.
The session was aimed at publicising the Association’s mission and objectives, as well as the services providing guidance in legal and work aspects and in those involving social integration, among others, that it offers to its visually-impaired members and supporters. Mr. Martí highlighted the Teléfono del Ojo (Eye Telephone) (900 900 505), a free service designed to serve this group and their families and provide help in the solving of personal and social problems.
The Association also supports the Tengo Baja Visión (I Have Low Vision) project through the distribution of a badge that helps those with low vision to be recognised as such, thus avoiding erroneous interpretations that arise as a result of their condition.
The ADVC has produced a pamphlet that provides guidelines on how to engage with the visually-impaired. Mr Martí stressed how important it is for a professional team such as the Institut de la Màcula to be aware of how to engage and deal with people of this type.
Before explaining some very simple recommendations, he said that the initial step is to treat these people naturally. Here are some other recommendations that help to foster social inclusion:
- Their autonomy is important: Respect their decision regarding the degree of help they require. They know better than anyone what they need and when they need it.
- When you greet them, tell them who you are and what type of greeting you are giving them.
- If you have to accompany them, suggest that they take your elbow, walk one step ahead of them and warn them of changes in direction, steps and ascending or descending slopes. In narrow spaces, they should position themselves directly behind you.
- Remember that guide dogs should not be distracted if they are accompanying them.
During the training session, the President of the ADVC talked about his own condition, retinitis pigmentosa, its symptoms and the impact it has had on his life. Recounting his own experiences with a great sense of humour, he explained the difficulties and fears that people like him have to address and overcome every day.
After the medical and care team had taken their turn to speak, Dr Jordi Monés MD, PhD, the Director of the Institut de la Màcula, concluded the session by thanking Mr Martí for his tireless devotion to this group and his efforts to raise funds for research.