In a world that can sometimes seem chaotic, World Kindness Day reminds us of the power of compassion. At some point, we’ve all learned from one of Aesop’s fables that, ‘No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.’ Small acts of kindness positively impact individuals and communities. The ripple effect can be significant.
Everyone has an opportunity to be kind. You can make a difference in your own way in your own niches of family, friends, and colleagues. At RealThing, inclusivity is something we value, especially for those experiencing disabilities and sight loss.
This World Kindness Day, why not challenge yourself to commit a small act of kindness and connect with someone who has special needs. It can be as easy as starting with a simple, ‘Hello.’
To Someone Who’s Visually Impaired
When you’re sighted, it’s easy to forget that blind and partially sighted people miss out on a lot of social cues and gestures. No, we don’t know you’re waving, ‘Hello’ from across the street, or across the room, or even across the table. Most people with low vision won’t see you smiling or nodding your head in friendly greeting. If you say, ‘Hi,’ and we haven’t spent a lot of time with you, we’ll say, ‘Hello,’ back. But we frequently have no idea who we’ve just spoken to; we haven’t had a chance to memorise the sound of the voice connected to the person. It can be very isolating to be around a lot of people and not be able to see faces and gestures.
I guarantee, you’ll make a difference in someone’s day with a greeting like, ‘Hello. How are you? it’s Jessica, from when you were walking with your guide dog at the park yesterday.’ Or ‘Nice to see you again, it’s Bob from the bus stop. Have a good day at work.’ Or ‘Hey. It’s Helen again, I rang up your groceries last week. How are you today?’
To Someone Deaf or Hard of Hearing
It’s not just visually impaired people who miss out on friendly gestures. It can be very isolating for deaf and hard of hearing people. At the very least it might be like being in a foreign country and not knowing the language. It would be a challenge to function without being able to interact with others.
If there’s someone in your circle or community who’s hard of hearing, it would be wonderful if you could learn to say a few things in sign language. Basic things that aren’t difficult like, ‘How are you?’ And ‘Have a good day.’ And ‘Thank you,’ or ‘You’re welcome.’
There are also apps that could transcribe as you speak and will let them type a response to you. You can text back and forth or just use paper and pencil to communicate. Just take a minute from time to time to interact with them.
If you’re someone who’s visually impaired trying to communicate with someone hard of hearing, you’ll have to be creative. But it is possible, I am legally blind, and I communicate with my brother who is totally deaf.
To Someone with Other Disabilities
Other individuals with disabilities, people who use mobility aids like wheelchairs, people who have difficulty speaking, moving, or have cognitive challenges, are often overlooked. Many times, it’s easy for society to have a dismissive or unpleasant attitude towards disability. People don’t realise that they’re staring impolitely when someone can’t speak properly or has unusual uncontrolled movements. Often misunderstood, it can be extremely isolating for them as well.
It’s not hard to courteously move aside to let the wheelchair through, but it’s quite another matter to connect with someone so different from oneself. You can overcome that discomfort with kindness. Start with something simple, just a friendly wave or a cheerful smile.
The Ripple Effect
Saying, ‘Hello’ might seem incredibly inconsequential at the moment, but kindness has the potential to create a ripple that can move mountains. Your kind greeting might be observed by another person, and they in turn also do something kind. You might unknowingly be an example to a young person who might be inspired to volunteer for a helpful organisation. You might give someone the confidence to do something they didn’t think they could. Or you could just be making somebody’s day and that alone is worth the trouble.
Happy World Kindness Day from the RealSAM Team!
By Guenivir Kendrick