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Simple ways to communicate inclusively

Over the years, we have learnt from many kinds of people and professionals that it's hard to be inclusive if you don’t know how. That many Australians want to be more inclusive, but often feel uncomfortable to do so when the moment calls for it. 

This is why we have compiled a list of tips that helps to cover common questions and scenarios that arise when interacting with someone who has low vision.

12 ways to become a more inclusive society

1. Always identify yourself.

Introduce yourself properly and use your name. Don’t assume someone with vision loss will recognise you purely by your voice.

2. Offer your elbow to help guide.

Offering your elbow to guide someone through a crowd or in an unfamiliar space is helpful, but always remember to ask first.

3. Keep using body language.

Talk and behave naturally. Body language can change the tone of your voice and can add a lot of extra information to the conversation.

4. Speak naturally and clearly.

Loss of eyesight does not mean loss of hearing. Keep your tone and volume the same as you always would.

5. Do a rollcall at the start of meetings.

In a group situation, do a rollcall and introduce the other people present. Not knowing who is in the room can cause un-necessary confusion and apprehension.

6. Tell people when you are leaving the room and when you will be back.

This makes sure the person with vision loss isn’t left speaking to an empty room.

7. Just talk to people like you would your family and friends. 

Be natural and be yourself. Great intentions and a bit of information are all it takes to become a more inclusive person.

What not to do

8. Don’t avoid words like “see” or “look” or talking about everyday activities like watching TV.

Speak naturally and about the activities you do in the way you would normally let your words flow.

9. Don’t put yourselves in situations where there is competing noise.

Sensory overload can lead to someone feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

10. Don’t assume someone needs help. Always ask first.

It’s important that the person with a vision condition remains independent in the ways they want to be. Everyone deals with and adapts to their vision loss in their own way.

11. Never channel conversation through a third person.

This can make the person with vision loss feel unseen. It is also rude in general.

12. Don’t grab their arm.

This will cause surprise and discomfort. Always guide someone with your elbow.