I have had this happen to me many times.. what do you do if you’re a sighted individual and you’re meeting an individual with a visual impairment for the first time? Do you hold out your hand, do you hug them, do you hold out your hand and then if they don’t respond take it back like nothing happened, do you announce that your hand is there.. what is the proper way to do this?
I’ve been asked this a few times before and when I have told the person I am meeting prior to meeting them that I am blind, I have been told after that several individuals have gone through this same thought process. Surprisingly, if you google “how to shake hands with a blind person (or person with visual impairment)” nothing really helpful comes up.
What I generally do to eliminate this awkwardness upon meeting someone is to firmly extend my hand first. That way before it has the chance to get really awkward the individual can find my hand and shake it, rather than me trying to find theirs or me not seeing theirs/not knowing they are extending their hand and making them feel awkward. However, if you do want to shake somebody’s hand and they don’t seem to be sticking out theirs, there really is no harm in politely saying “I’m extending my arm to shake your hand,” or something like that. It may sound weird to you, but it’s informative to the individual with the visual impairment. Really, most individuals with vision loss will be very patient with whatever happens so just relax. 🙂