[nfbwatlk] FW: [Youth-outreach] How Blind Youth Can Confidently Introduce Themselves To Strangers In Any Social Situation

Denise Mackenstadt dmackenstadt at comcast.net
Sun Dec 11 12:02:16 CST 2011

I would like to reply to your comment.  I agree that parents should be the first stop to work with any child on social skills.  The problem is that parents of blind kids are many times lost as to how social interaction is impacted by blindness.  This may be a misperception on their part.  Many times it takes us as the experts on blindness, blind people ourselves, who can tell parents that yes they can help their children in these areas.  The reality is that many times sighted people think they cannot relate.  As blind people we can have a huge impact on letting blind youth and their families know that being competent in a variety of social situations is not rocket science but common sense.  The field of education of the blind has put forward a mindset that social skills can only be taught by the "professional experts".  Again, parents and students are not given the common sense belief that they can raise their blind kids as they have raised their other children.  So, yes, parents should be teaching these skills.  I believe that our role as blind people is to help parents and youth to believe in their own common sense.  
On Dec 11, 2011, at 9:24 AM, Mike Freeman wrote:

> Excellent social tips below. However, I am moved to wonder where the *parents* of the blind teens discussed below are? Isn't it the parents' job to teach the social graces?
> Mike
> -----Original Message-----
> From: youth-outreach-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:youth-outreach-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of John Bailey
> Sent: Sunday, December 11, 2011 7:27 AM
> To: Youth outreach projects Support List
> Subject: [Youth-outreach] How Blind Youth Can Confidently Introduce Themselves To Strangers In Any Social Situation
> How Blind Youth Can Confidently Introduce Themselves To Strangers In Any 
> Social Situation
> Over the past few years, the national Federation of the blind of Virginia
> has made extraordinary efforts to reach out to the blind youth in our state.
> One excellent example of this outreach effort is the opportunities and
> activities the NFBV have for blind teens at our annual state convention.
> During the weekend of November 4, 2011, Potomac chapter president and Youth
> Track coordinator Tracy Soforenko organized several activities for blind
> youth that the kids would find fun while also being educational. Tracy
> invited me to participate in one of those activities.
> Tracy asked me to talk to the kids for a few minutes about techniques they
> can use in order to feel comfortable introducing themselves to strangers in
> new environments.
> Part of growing up is to learn the social skills necessary to interact with
> others. These skills are essential for anyone who wants to be successful in
> advocating for themselves. Many of our blind teens are unsure about their
> skills and are therefore reluctant to interact with others. Tracy set up an
> environment where the teens could practice their skills among friends. The
> teens got to practice introducing themselves, shaking hands, and carrying on
> a conversation. And, the youth had the opportunity to become friends with
> successful blind role models.
> This isn't just the challenge for blind teens. Many adults blind and sighted
> can be intimidated by having to introduce themselves to people they don't
> know. I gave them some tips they can use to help break-the-ice at any social
> situation.
> One of the questions everybody has when they meet somebody new is, "what can
> we talk about?" Here are two things right-off-the-bat you can talk about
> with any stranger anywhere.
> No matter the situation and no matter who you talk to, you have two things
> you can already talk about. The first topic you can talk about is the reason
> you are both there. All social situations have some reason for gathering.
> The reason could be work related, it can be someone's birthday party, it
> could be the meeting of a local civics organization, and it could be
> anything. One good way to break the ice with a complete strangers to ask
> them, quote what brings you here? Quote
> Here is a second way to get a conversation going where you almost don't have
> to lift a finger to participate. Asked the stranger about themselves. People
> love to talk about themselves. They love to talk about their families. They
> love to talk about their work. All you have to do is to listen. Believe me,
> the better you listen, the more they will like you. It's just human nature!
> It's perfectly normal to be nervous when meeting new people. I've given you
> to tips that when you face any social situation, you have two sure fire ways
> to start a conversation with anyone.
> The first tip is to ask the person why they are there. Odds are, you are
> both there for the same reason and there is already something you can share.
> The second way to get a conversation going is to ask the person about
> themselves.
> Now that you can introduce yourself to any stranger in any social situation,
> don’t forget to mention that you are a proud member of the National
> Federation of the Blind.
> John Bailey is membership Chair for the National Federation of the Blind of
> Virginia. If you have any questions or would like to contribute any
> additional advice, John can be reached by emailing him at
> john_bailey17 at hotmail.com
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Denise Mackenstadt
dmackenstadt at comcast.net

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