[nfbwatlk] Questions concerning how people look like

Prows, Bennett (HHS/OCR) Bennett.Prows at HHS.GOV
Fri Feb 26 16:10:51 UTC 2010

Well,  since no one has yet responded, I'll take a brief shot at this
one. And, I wouldn't take the lack of response as intimidation. 

I'm Not sure why this is so interesting.  I won't generalize about blind
folks, but just for myself.  I think though that "looks" in the first
instance are not as important as sighted people make them.  Not that I
am disinterested, but looks just aren't as relevant as knowing the
persons, taking them as their personality dictates, just generally
relating to people on a daily basis, etc.  

I *hate* touching faces.  (Unless of course it's during an intimate
moment, smile).  I don't think it really tells you much about the
individual, and  it seems to me it is that activity is not only
offensive to many, but invasive too. 

If the issue is whether you want to ask a person for a date, I still say
the personality, and how you relate in the first place is more relevant
than the looks, until you get to know her/him and can determine
appearance by subtle touches, or by asking the person directly. As you
know,, you can always ask a sighted associate for a description, if
you're scoping out the person. 

Now, I will say that we do live in a visually dependent world, and I
think that a person's appearance does tell a lot about him/her.  That is
why we all should be concerned about personal grooming, clothing, etc.
But on a routine, day to day basis, I just am not as concerned about
what the person looks like when I'm talking to her/him.  

One more thing.  Body language and nonverbal queues are important to
sighted folks as well.  A whole psychological industry has been
developed by interpreters of this silent language.  But blind persons
too can interpret what a person is really thinking by paying attention
to things like voice inflection, the brief moment of silence when a
question is asked, or a comment is made,  the location of the voice when
the head is turned, a sigh, etc. There are many nonverbal things we use
to communicate, and we're no different, I think than sighted persons in
that regard.

Just a few thoughts.


Bennett Prows  

-----Original Message-----
From: nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org]
On Behalf Of hmp
Sent: Thursday, February 25, 2010 5:51 PM
To: BlindTlk at nfbNet.org
Cc: hal.grove at gMail.com; nfbWaTlk at nfbnet.org
Subject: [nfbwatlk] Questions concerning how people look like


     I'm very sure everyone in this mailing list is blind. Maybe 
some of you are not. And well, I have a curiosity, or a question, 
that maybe you can answer for me and if it is not that 
     As you know, sighted people tend to look at each other's 
face, or perhaps most of the body movements and the hands, while 
they're talking to each other. For example, when somebody is 
talking and facing another person, that person faces that other 
person, and he or she can look at the person's face. In addition, 
this does not happen when they are talking only; the person can 
just look at that other person, E.G. a boy says "hello" to a girl 
perhaps, and he looks at her because she is pretty (or she 
perhaps isn't) and he looks at her smile and he knows what she 
looks like. He can maybe remember her just through all those 
details of her. Furthermore, there are more case-scenarios out 
there that are very similar to this one.
     While sighted people do this, as far as blind people are 
concerned, is there any way a blind person can do the same things 
just like the sighted? Can a blind person tell how someone looks 
like by some technique or some information? If I want to know how 
someone looks like, what can I do? Sometimes I think that 
probably by touching faces I can get a general detail of what 
he/she is like, but some people may see this as an offensive 
thing. I have just a little bit of vision (mostly out of the 
corner of my right eye), but I cannot see well enough to see 
these things. I can only see very close objects or people. But 
anyways, if, for example, I meet a nice girl and she says hello 
to me, and she carries out a conversation with me. How can I get 
the physical description of her? How do I know if she is just 
smiling without laughing? How do I know what her hair looks like? 
maybe she has a pointy nose, a big/small mouth, and probably 
really all straight and white teeth! How can I know these things? 
I could perhaps ask her, "What do you look like?" but I've had 
bad experiences asking that question, although some people are 
kind and they tell me. Again, I don't see any bad thing by 
touching people's faces, however, I'm not sure if I should 
totally do it because of an offense or just being disrespectful.
     I am asking this question just for curiosity, and I'd like 
to see what you think about this. Any feedback and comments about 
this topic are welcome. I'd like to find out what other blind 
people have done to accomplish well this situation.

Thank you and have a very lucky day!

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