Give and Take


For those of us who can’t see, there are quite a few
potentially awkward situations that come up now and then. We usually make it
through them with a minimum of embarrassment, although it would be better to
figure out how to avoid them in the first place.


As trivial as it may seem to people who can see, simply
handing something to someone else or having him or her hand something to us is
often one of those awkward situations. If both people in the exchange can see,
passing something to someone else seldom results in an issue. But before
pursuing this, I do want to point out that, even people who can see
occasionally fumble the exchange. Drinks get spilled and things are dropped.
Please keep this in mind the next time there is an accident. It may have very
well been the person who can see who fumbled.


To keep accidents at a minimum though, I have a few
suggestions for handing things to people who can see, and for taking things
being handed to us.


The first tip is probably obvious but is also frequently
skipped as the first and often the best option. Don’t try to hand something to
someone else, especially if it is easily seen by him or her or might spill or
break. Simply say, "Sure, you are welcome to it;" or perhaps,
"Help yourself."


If you do need to pick it up and hand it to them, pick it up
and hold it toward them. Don’t reach it out or move it around. Let them do the


If someone is handing something to you, tip one is to not
reach for it at all. Ask them to please lay it on the table or some other
surface, where you can easily find it. This frequently comes up in restaurants.
Just wait with your hands in your lap until the meal is served.


Especially if you are being handed a glass or cup of
something that can spill, hold your hand open as if you were going to pick up
the glass, bottle or cup. Turn your hand so your fingertips are pointing down.
Now put your hand on the table or other surface where you want the glass to be
placed. Notice how your thumb and index finger form a circle where the glass or
cup should go. Most often, the person who can see will automatically set the
glass conveniently inside the circle you have made with your hand. You only
need to very gently move your hand until you locate the glass, and then
carefully pick it up and have a refreshing drink.


Having something handed to us can be more awkward than
handing something to someone else. Why, you ask? The person doing the handing
frequently expects us to reach for it and take it from their hand. There may be
an uncomfortable silence, while the other person wonders why you aren’t
reaching to take what is being handed to you. Even worse, they may lay it down
or set it down, expecting you to reach and pick it up.


Tip two is easy. If you are being handed something by
someone who may not know you can’t see, just say, "I can’t see and will
appreciate your handing it to me." When they do hand it to you, remember
to say, "Thank you."


One final little tip. For most things, hold your hand, or
both hands if appropriate, in front of you at about chest level, as if you
already were holding the object being handed to you. People will usually
deposit the object in your hand, ready for you to grasp it. However you deal
with it, hold still and don’t move your hands around. When people hand stuff to
us, our hands should not be a moving target.


There is one hidden tip in there that might be missed. Even
if you have a white Cane, dark glasses and your friendly guide dog, some people
won’t get it that you can’t see. I usually say early on, "I can’t see. I
just thought it might help for you to know that." No, not to everyone,
every time. But whenever the contact is more than passing, mentioning it can’t
hurt and often helps.