By Ian Beverley


I love being able to give help as well as receive it if needed, because there are definitely some times in life that dictates it.  Yes, there’s nothing like the feeling of being able to follow a fairly complex route or to do a  particular task alone, but I know that if I’m asked for help with something, I’m more than happy to assist and enjoy doing so. 


As visually impaired people, should we accept help and assistance at all costs?  For example, should we regard the invasion of personal space as a step too far or should we be grateful for any assistance offered?  Is it a case where diplomacy wins through or is ascertiveness a means of ensuring that help is given appropriately? 


I’ve read some really interesting discussions recently on this point and feel its an interesting balance that moves with each situation.  As a regular commuter, I most certainly welcome any help that is offered.  Despite having a guide dog and a very good sense of orientation,  there are situations which lend themselves to assistance.  Its very rarely offered and when asked for its quite often ignored, but getting through crowds and busy railway stations is not for the faint hearted.  I don’t like being grabbed as a rule and whenever I can get help, this is often the first reaction of the other person.  I’ve managed, through years of gradually calming experience, to develop a better sense of diplomacy that can turn such a situation into a better one.  For instance, when grabbed I’ll say ‘ah if you don’t mind, could you help me this way – say walk in front of me or let me take your arm’.  Generally, it does work, but on the odd occasion, they may walk off bemused that they cannot control the situation. 


I remember the feeling I get when I’m able to help someone and that does help to balance things when receiving help from someone else.  There are worrying extremes though where things are taken too far.  One, which I read about the other day, was when one person suddenly found a member of the public come up to them, pull up their trousers and walked off.  Now that is a complete and utter invasion of space, dignity and although the intention may have been in some way in the right direction, it was still inexcusable. 

If I don’t need help for any reason and am asked, I try to put across that I’m okay this time but really appreciate being asked and thank them for asking.  I think regardless of being blind or not, that’s a fairly good approach because it does try to encourage helpfulness.  


There were days in the distant past when I’d be more militant when dealing with these situations.  I know that the vast majority of people who want to help, do so genuinely and with a little encouragement can be  steered in the right way to do so.  However, it certainly shouldn’t be help at all costs, because personal space is important and just because we need and ask for help, this space should not be invaded. 


Each situation is different and like the example highlighted above, the person wouldn’ be told or advised otherwise.  That could be very well constrewed as assault. 


I like receiving help as long as I can direct it.  I also like receiving help because it can make a huge difference to getting around and also I love the feeling you get when I can help someone else – no worries I most definitely respect others personal space J


Over to you, should it be receiving help at all costs? 


Click on the image to view the larger version.