Navigating the Social Waters

Everybody knows that social gatherings can amount to some level of stress, but for those of us who are blind or partially sighted, it can be even trickier to navigate amongst the sea of humans. Therefore, we are here to share some of our struggles and tips when taking part in family or social gatherings.

Jill is someone who comes from a large social family. Jinnie also comes from a large family who are also social but participate in larger events due to the cultural aspect. Because of this, they are both well-versed in navigating the busy social seas.

A lot of people equal double the shoes! At the beginning of the night, shoes begin to pile up an they quickly become a tripping hazard. Then there is also the meet and greet! You quickly move on to hugs and ‘hellos’. From Jill’s perspective, she usually knows everyone who is there, and it is simply just one big hug after another for 20 plus people.

Jinnie on the other hand, does not always know who it is, as there are simply too many people to keep track of, and some she has never even met which makes ‘hellos’ just a little more interesting. Continuing through the night, eventually takes us to drinks and food. For both Jill and Jinnie, the experience here is somewhat similar. Both usually get provided with a drink as the host is passing them out. For meals however, both youths rely on different amounts of assistance as not everything is in an accessible place. For Jill, her family will often guide her and help pick out her food. Jinnie’s family will either do the same or bring the food to her as they guess what she enjoys eating.

As we all know, eventually you will have to visit the restroom. Jill prefers to be able to be as independent as possible and therefore will start making her way to the bathroom even if someone helps. For Jinnie, this can be challenging, and she do not always know where the bathroom is and may not have a mobility device depending on where she is. Along with this, she does not want to bother or rely on others when needing to go. However, sometimes people are quick to jump in and help regardless of if she can do it or not.

These are just a few of the struggles and situations we have been through. It’s not all that bad though. Here are a few tips to help you during your next get-together!

  • When your seated at the table or in a room, try and listen to the voices around you in order to identify who is located where.
  • If you have to go to the bathroom, choose your words and ask if anyone else has to go as well.
  • If you can, try to put your shoes and other belongings in a spot that you will remember.
  • Try to maintain the same spot for sitting so that you can easily find it.

We hope you can relate to these situations and can find these suggestions helpful at your next social event!

by Jill Sloane and Jinnie Saran