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by Abigail Van Buren

How to Approach a Blind Person in Public

DEAR ABBY: What's the best way to gain the attention of a stranger who is blind? With a sighted person I would make sure I caught his/her eye before speaking. I tried a straightforward "Excuse me, sir," but we were in a public place, and he didn't realize I was talking directly to him. I ended up tapping him on the shoulder, but in general I think it's rude to touch strangers, and he jumped a foot. Is there a better solution? -- POLITE IN THE EAST

DEAR POLITE: Yes, there is. One should never touch or grab a sightless person. According to the National Federation of the Blind, what you should have done was to have repeated "Excuse me, sir," and identified yourself from a short distance away -- preferably directly in front of him -- to avoid startling him.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics