Gayle Yarnall was a former director of adaptive technology at Perkins Products from 2008 to 2012. She has shared her story about some of the things that annoy blind people so much.
Tiny little stickers on every single piece of fruit
Blind peoples try to remember to look for stickers on fruit and even when they do, they miss them more often than not. They even sometimes think about how many stickers they have eaten in their lifetime. Were they harmful to their health? Will others find hundreds of them in their coffin 50 years after they are dead? They try pretending that they don’t notice their friends and family picking stickers off the fruit they serve. (Although their family makes a point of telling them they found it.)
Pieces of paper taped to the outside of the stall door in a public bathroom
What does this little note tell blind peoples? Is there a County Fair going on this weekend? Has the bathroom been recently painted? If they flush the toilet, will the entire bathroom flood? Don’t you think there should be a law stating that you can only put these notes up in the case of an actual emergency?
Flight attendants who tell you to wait in your seat, and assure you they’ll come for you if there is an emergency
These are the same people who can’t remember to bring you change for the drink you ordered or the water you asked for. Why would a blind person think that when the plane is falling into the ocean, flight attendants will come back to their seat and help them? If something happens, you should get out of there! You don’t wait for some overworked person to remember that you are in seat 24-F and then buck the tide of rushing humanity to come and help you!
Placement of car door handles
If a blind person becomes president of the United States, he/she sure going to pass a law that all door handles must be in the same spot on every car door. Because blind people hate looking for car door handles! (they don’t think that the car manufacturers have to worry. Their past is far too colorful for them to ever consider running for president.)
Phone numbers that use cute little words instead of numbers
Say you need to dial 1-800-HELP-NOW. The 1-800 goes without a snag. Then you get to the letter H. You might remember there is no letter on the 1 button, so you move to 2 and think, A-B-C. Then you move to the 3 button and think, D-E-F. By the time you get to H, you took too long, and your phone call gets cut off! The problem with cordless phones is that they are too easy to throw across the room. Blind peoples can’t throw things when they are angry because then the thing is lost until someone else finds it. So what’s the point?
Your closest person who leaves their socks on the floor
If you are a blind woman, and you like a clean house, but your significant other defines “clean” in a slightly different way, you have a problem. The blind woman tries to give her husband certain spaces he can mess up. This does not always work. (What a shock.) Her husband is encouraged to put all his junk on the coffee table in the den, but sometimes their husband gets creative. Gayle Yarnall has the similar problem and says “Last week he was out of town, so I decided to sit in his recliner. Tucked nicely in the corner I found one of his socks. I knew they traveled in pairs, so I searched for the second one. During the search, I found the second sock on the floor, along with his shoes and a half-filled cup of three-day-old coffee.”
It is very hard to open the packaging
Most bottles of things (like vitamins) are sealed at least three different ways. Blind people have no complaint about the box the bottle is in as long as it is not shrink-wrapped. They don’t mind the tamperproof paper seal under the lid. But they run into trouble with those tight plastic seals that fasten the bottle cap to the bottle. Those bottles have a marking that indicates where to tear, but if you can’t see that marking, well, you’re in for some fun. First of all, make sure you’re somewhere you can’t be seen. Then you should wash the bottle top because you’re going to need your teeth. Teeth work well for lifting that plastic seal just enough to get your fingernail under it so you can tear it. Of course, the top part of the plastic seal that’s on the cap will frequently separate from the part that actually holds the cap to the bottle. When that happens, there is no place to grab with your teeth. This is when you get a knife. You stick it under the part that is left and try again. After you get this evil piece of plastic completely off the bottle and open the lid, you’ll find that you are still kept from the aspirin you desperately need, at this point, by that tamperproof seal. Never fear. You still have your knife.
The petty irritations of travel
Any blind person who has traveled alone will tell you at least three things they find annoying:
- Unintentional exhibitionism. When you stay in a hotel by yourself, you probably leave the room with the curtain closed. When you return it is dark. You probably don’t need a light, but you put one on anyway. You know you left the curtain closed so you begin to get undressed. The maid has cleaned your room, and they like open curtains. You better hope you’re on an upper floor.
- Credit card-type door keys. Some of these hotel key-cards have little holes in them, and you can remember how the holes are oriented when you insert the card into the lock. A lot of them are totally smooth on both sides. You have four chances to get it right. For some reason, blind people usually never does it in less than three tries. (you actually have a solution to this problem. You ask the person at the front desk to cut one of the corners on the card. Be sure to ask him or her cut the corner that does not go into the lock.)
- Identical floor plans on every floor. Have you noticed how all floors in a hotel look pretty much alike? If you are blind, you count landmarks. These could be lights, soda machines, doors or turns. Many times than you can count, you usually end up at the wrong room because you get off the elevator on the wrong floor. This is not a big deal if the door you try to open by inserting the card about eight times does not open. However, when someone you don’t know opens the door, then the fun begins.
When someone comes up to blind people in a crowd and says, “Guess who this is?”
Do they think blind people can remember everyone’s voice and know who they are from just those four words? In fact, they don’t have a special place in their memory where they file away a mental recording of everyone they have ever met saying, “Guess who this is?” you always want to come back with some smart answer like, “I know, you’re Daffy Duck!”
Forgetting what food you left in your refrigerator three weeks ago (With helpful hint)
Many times if you’ve left something in your refrigerator long enough that when you come across it again, you’ve completely forgotten what’s in the container. Everyone has. But if you have the vision, you can gently open the lid and peek in while holding your nose. Here, you are blind; you have to really stick your nose in there and figure out what it is. This can be horrifying.
One helpful hint for a blind girl: you store everything in old glass jars. If your husband is home, he can look through the glass and tell you what’s inside. If you are alone and, heaven help you, cleaning the refrigerator, you just toss the jar without ever opening it. It’s not worth the risk. (Clear Ziploc bags also work well.)