How to Create a Successful Double-Act With a Sighted Assistant

Young man assisting lady with cane on pier
Harry Williamson/WA/Spring Studio

Have you sometimes wondered how much easier life would be if you could get a sighted assistant to do those visual tasks you are having difficulty with? Add to this, you are new to vision loss and the joy of life is vanishing before your eyes. Life would be a whole lot easier if you knew how to manifest a sort of clone of yourself when you really need help.

The good news is, it’s not impossible. Don’t be afraid to share visual tasks with others.

If a genetic clone literally means a group of identical cells within the human system, then why not consider on a practical level, the ‘cloning’ (as in seeking assistance) as a possibility to create a group of people who can share in the healthy building of new DNA in your life. By the term DNA, I see it here as meaning, Disabled Not Applicable. You can develop your skills in inspiring others who will share in the performing of tasks with amazing results.

How you ask? By inviting a sighted person to form your ‘double-act’. This could be a loving spouse or partner, a mature sighted child, a best friend or kind companion, a reliable fellow worker or school buddy – anyone in your life who understands you need a reliable assistant at times. For instance, I write regularly for a variety of blogs and am keenly independent when it comes to managing my writing career, yet I can’t see my computer screen clearly.

I’ve trained in adaptive software for the blind and work very contentedly on my own, up to the stage where I need to publish these articles online for a sighted audience. That is when I request the web-wizardry of two special sighted people in my life – my proofreader and my webmaster. It has been this collaborative experience that has produced more possibilities to publish online.

Here are my 5 Tips to Create a Successful Act with your Sighted Assistant:

  1. Know your Strengths and Limitations. When a visual task has become too difficult to carry out on your own, or could be better achieved with the aid of your sighted-assistant, go ahead and ask. This is the time to reach out and graciously accept, knowing that there is no shame in being limited by your vision loss. It is a wonderful act of creative collaboration.
  2. Plan for Rehearsals. When you are preparing for a visual task you know will require extra time and added skill from your sighted-partner, plan a rehearsal time that will suit both of you. An impromptu approach may not produce the desired magic between you, leaving you to juggle the last part of the act alone.
  3. The Best Performers keep Patience up their Sleeves. The next time you find it annoying to wait for your sighted-clone to appear, see if you have any patience in reserve, and sprinkle this into the mix. As eyesight fades, it is hard to know what others are doing if they are not giving you a verbal commentary on their silent unseen activities. Your sighted-clone might have been reading an email, deeply lost in thought, or was perhaps about to make a phone call when you asked for help. It was your timing that was off, not your request.
  1. Be under no Illusion – sometimes you need to Fail. One role of your assistant is to stand back and allow you to fail. By giving you the opportunity to have another go at that visual task you want to master, they enable you to develop a resourceful approach to problem-solving. Take another shot at that task and you might even surprise yourself.
  2. Take a Bow and say the magic Word. Abracadabra! Visual task done! All that is left for you to do now is to praise your sighted assistant. When an act of kindness and committed effort really does make your life easier, words of genuine praise work like a charm.

    Showing your appreciation to your sighted helpers will make them only too happy to lend a hand next time. Performing as collaborative ‘clones’ who know how to share visual tasks with successful results puts the magic of partnership back into your life.

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