I Know You: Making the Unfamiliar Familiar to People who are Blind

Image Description: An image of a sidewalk with the words “Say hello to others” written on the sidewalk in white paint. At the bottom of the image are the toes a pair of feet wearing brown shoes.

I have been working as one of three data analysts in a department project for the last six weeks. The other data analysts are also PhD candidates from different tracks than mine. Since this was our first time working together as a team, we were trying to get to know each other’s experiences. We would talk about our experience in the classrooms and in different courses. After six weeks, while talking about a specific course that we were asked to consult on, one of my teammates said, “Roqayah, I was with you in this course and I have known you for about three years now. We took multiple classes together and we attended a conference together.” I was surprised as he never interacted with me in any of these settings, so I was familiar to him, but he wasn’t familiar to me.

This is a common experience of people who are blind and visually impaired (BVI). Sighted people often get familiar with each other because they see each other’s faces in different settings, while people who are BVI lack access to that information. This means that people who are sighted likely have a wider circle of acquaintances than people who are BVI. My quick recommendation in this short blog post is to make the unfamiliar familiar to people who are BVI. This can be done by taking initiative to introduce yourself to people who are BVI in the various spaces that you are in and make them feel included by simply interacting with them to help them get acquainted with you.

Imagine if my teammate and I had simply interacted 3 years ago, what a wonderful professional and personal relationship we could have had since we share similar interests.

Please like and share so we can build a more inclusive environment for people who are blind.

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