Blind in the City: Exploring Shades of Blindness, Part 1

One of the questions I get asked most is, “So, do blind people just see black?” or the related question, “Do you see anything besides black?”


The short answer is that blindness is a spectrum, from total absence of light to the ability to read print letters under some circumstances. Along with this, some of us can’t answer these questions very well, because we don’t know what the heck “black” looks like.


Today I want to talk about my experience of color, and how those experiences were formed in the absence of reliable color vision. Next week, I will share some comments from others with varying levels of color vision, to show the range of experiences people have.


My vision has been stable throughout my life, and consists of “light perception” and occasional “light projection.” This means that I am aware of the presence of lights and can judge their position and relative intensity (such as pointing at the sun, and detecting when it ducks behind a cloud). I can also detect an object’s motion at close range, and can (sometimes) tell if a light-reflective object is in front of me. However, for the most part, color is absent from these perceptions. My awareness of a light’s or object’s presence is usually a binary; the image either is there, or it’s not. Any two lights will look basically the same to me, aside from perhaps a difference in brightness.


There is one rare exception to this rule. Once when I was little, my dad shined a flashlight in my eyes, and I instantly detected something different about the light. I felt a pleasant warm sensation in my eyes, reminiscent of the taste of a curry or other pleasantly spicy “warm” dish, which I had never experienced before. My dad told me this was the color red. A quarter-century later, I got the same warm visual sensation when gazing upon the red ornaments on my in-laws’ Christmas tree, although try as I might, I could not detect the complementary green ornaments. Despite this tiny pocket of red-color vision, I can’t tell if you’re wearing a red sweater; it seems to be limited only to bright lights.


So, without any ability to identify the colors of things, how did I learn about colors?


My early color learning was purely memorization. Roses are red; the sky and ocean are blue; grass is green; snow is white; etc. I didn’t understand what these color labels meant, but this was important knowledge, as it allowed me to understand sighted people’s conversations, and color descriptions in books. I also memorized facts about color combinations; mixing red and yellow paint yields orange, for example, while blue plus yellow makes green. Again, it didn’t really make sense to me, but it was interesting information.


My color understanding took a big leap when I learned about the electromagnetic spectrum in eighth-grade science class. I learned that colors correspond to varying wavelengths of light. Red is the longest, slowest wavelength, while violet (purple) is the shortest, fastest one. Importantly, I was able to map this on to my understanding of sound: color is analogous to pitch, with reds and oranges resembling the lowest notes on the piano, while blues and violets correspond to the highest notes, and yellows and greens sit in the middle.
I also learned that white includes all the colors in equal proportion. This, I might imagine, could resemble a melodic blending of all the possible pitches, although I’m not sure how people get the “smooth” sensation of seeing something that is purely white.


But, then, what is black?


Black objects reflect no light, I was taught. So, logic would suggest that if a black object reflects no light back to the eye, and what we see is based on reflected light, then black objects must be invisible. But, clearly, this is not the case. Entire books are printed in black ink, and sighted people can read the black text without issue. And, I knew that when I wore my black dresses, people could see that I was clothed.


I literally completed a Ph.D. in psychology without really understanding what black looks like. A partial answer finally came during a discussion about something unrelated on Facebook, about two years ago. I asked how people can read books written in black ink if black things don’t reflect any light. An acquaintance of mine (who is partially blind, has color vision, and happens to be a childcare provider-so I guess she knows how to explain things to naïve adults as well as children) told me it’s like the indentations made by a cookie cutter. Black appears as a pattern of absences against a contrasting white (or, perhaps, bright-colored) background, like the visual version of carving out a tactile heart shape in a slab of clay. Just as you can’t get the indentations without the clay, you can’t get black without a contrasting color. Totally blind people, then, definitely don’t see black; and in fact, the ability to see black must rely on the presence of enough color vision to detect contrasts between foreground and bakcground. Being totally blind, then, is more like what we see with our elbows or the backs of our heads.


The concept of color still amazes me, almost like an extraterrestrial phenomenon. It’s something that has clear emotional and practical import for most of my fellow humans, but with the exception of red Christmas lights, is something I can only understand in the abstract. I still have limited understanding of which colors should or shouldn’t be paired together in fashion choices. I get the sense that it’s OK to pair similar colors, and that anything can be paired with black, white, and some shades of gray or brown. For the most part, I’ve managed to bypass the issue by choosing “neutral-colored” bottoms, wearing one-piece dresses, or getting advice on specific outfits from people who can see. This is an area of knowledge I hope to expand on, so I can become more intentional with my color choices.


As I conclude this post, I want to emphasize that there are as many experiences of color as there are blind people. For example, I know several blind people who are quite fashion-conscious, and some who have strong emotional associations with certain colors. Many of us have experienced changes in our color vision over our lives, which influence our thoughts and feelings about color.


Do you have some degree of blindness or vision loss, and an interesting experience with color? Tell us in the comments, or email me at

In the Age of Mainstreaming, Being with Other Disabled Folks is Still Important

It’s time for another reblog!
On this blog, I’ve talked about the benefits of disability friendship for adults. Today’s post talks about the benefits of disability friendship for children and teens.
Like this blogger, I was one of the “lucky ones” in that I received a typical education, but also spent time around other kids who shared my disability. These connections were first arranged by my assigned teacher of the visually impaired (TVI), who organized activities for the blind students in our school district. Later, our local blindness agency in my hometown set up a program for blind school-age children around the city. The program ran on weekends and during summers, allowing us to attend our neighborhood schools and still spend time together.
These programs need an investment of resources and labor to run well, but as the below post points out so eloquently, they are worth it.
In the Age of Mainstreaming, Being with Other Disabled Folks is Still Important

Blind in the City: What’s for Dinner?

Last week, I posted about a struggling blind cook This week, I want to answer some common questions about how we cook for ourselves and our families.

When I graduated from college ten years ago, I knew how to cook a handful of things, and survived on the occasional home-cooked meal, but mostly frozen dinners and takeout. After graduation I spent seven months at the Louisiana Center for the Blind (LCB), a specialized training center for learning nonvisual ways to do things. Thanks to the challenging center assignments, and my own experiences after graduation, I’m a functional cook. I’m definitely not a gourmet, and don’t love baking (or even really like it), but I can prepare a variety of meals. Here I want to share some stories and answer some questions. Although the main focus is on what I’ve learned as a blind person, I will also feature some kitchen devices that can help people with a variety of disabilities

Q: Won’t you burn yourself? That knife is too sharp for you!
A: While I have not read a scientific study on the topic, I am fairly confident that the majority of kitchen accidents happen to people without disabilities. An accident usually results from a lapse in awareness. Sight isn’t the only way, or even always the best way, to be aware of dangers. I can feel heat rising from a burner from a safe distance. I use oven mitts, and when holding an item on a cutting board, I keep my hand a safe distance from the knife in my other hand. If something doesn’t sound or smell right, I’ll investigate. Keeping the stove and surrounding areas uncluttered is a key to ensuring safety, whether you can see the clutter or not.

About five years ago I purchased a set of super-sharp chef’s knives. My efficiency in the kitchen doubled. And, I was making quick, clean cuts; much safer than struggling to force a dull knife through a potato or a piece of meat. For those who have difficulty using conventional knives, there are a variety of manual and electric choppers on the market, which can make ingredient preparation much less physically taxing.

Q: But how do you know when the food is done?
A: When I began my course at LCB, my first assignment was to make scrambled eggs. I’d made them before, but only in the microwave (which isn’t really “scrambled”). My instructor, Merilyn, had been teaching there for nearly 25 years. She isn’t blind, but she had learned to cook a multi-course meal under blindfold.

After I got my eggs in the frying pan, Merilyn showed me how to hold the spoon vertically so I could clearly feel what was underneath. Then, she went off to work with another student. This was new to me, since all my previous cooking lessons had come from people standing right behind me, telling me when to turn off the burner.

After a few minutes alone with the eggs, I could feel them harden in the pan, and they became difficult to stir. I turned off the stove and waited for Merilyn to return.

She asked me, “So, are your eggs ready?”


“What do you think?”

I poked the eggs with the spoon, and they seemed about the right texture. “I guess so,” I said tentatively.

“Why don’t you take a taste?” Merilyn suggested.

I did, and it wasn’t the best scrambled eggs I’d ever had, but not the worst either. It was one of the first times I was encouraged to fully trust my own senses without outside verification. When our educational system tends to put so much weight on all the deficits of blindness, the abilities we do have can be forgotten.

So, how do I know? Times given in recipes are a good starting point. I use my phone clock to keep time, or if the timing doesn’t need to be so precise, I’ll play music in the kitchen, giving me a general sense of how much time has passed. With many foods, doneness has multiple clues. For example, when raw ground meat is first placed in a pan, it will feel soft and slippery, and sizzle loudly. As the meat cooks, the sizzling will subside, the meat will resist tugging by a spatula, and often a characteristic smell will be detectable. With some foods, like pasta, the best way to check is with a taste test. And, talking thermometers are commercially available for those times when a precise temperature matters.

Q: How do you find things in the kitchen? What if something gets moved out of place?
A: At LCB, we used an industrial-sized kitchen. Many staple items, like flour and spices, were labeled in braille, but sometimes the labels came off. One day when I was making oatmeal cookies, I needed to add some vanilla extract. I found a bottle in the place where vanilla was usually stored. It was the right size and shape to be a vanilla bottle, although it had no braille label. I took a sniff, and it didn’t quite smell like vanilla, but my sense of smell has never been very reliable. So I put a teaspoon in, and started mixing my cookie dough with the stand mixer.

Suddenly, Merilyn tapped me on the shoulder. I turned off the mixer and asked what was up, but she was laughing so hard that she was literally speechless. When she finally settled down, Merilyn informed me that I had dyed my cookie dough green by adding green food coloring instead of vanilla! For the rest of the week, I was the butt of jokes about my secret Irish heritage.

Such mistakes have happened to the most organized among us, but they needn’t be a regular occurrence. There are as many nonvisual organizational systems as there are blind cooks. I like to make braille labels for condiments and spices by using a product called a Dymo braille label maker. This handheld device has a letter wheel with both print and braille letters on it. The user embosses braille letters onto a piece of tape by turning the wheel and squeezing the handle, and then cuts off the adhesive label and places it on the container. Some people prefer to make reusable braille labels on index cards and affix them with rubber bands. There are also modern apps that will read bar codes, though with varying degrees of accuracy, and a device called a Pen Friend allows the user to make audio-recorded labels. Some food containers can be distinguished by size, shape, or the sound it makes when shaken (rattling, sloshing, etc.) Identifying foods stored in Tupperware containers can be more difficult for us than it is for sighted people who can simply peer inside, but such containers can be labeled, or similar foods placed on the same shelf in the fridge. Although nonvisual food organization may seem complicated, it quickly becomes second nature.

Q: A blind person is moving into my home. How do I adapt the kitchen?
A: Our kitchen at home only contains one modification: We’ve put “bump dots” on the controls of our oven and microwave. Bump dots are clear adhesive dots of differing shapes and sizes, and I use them to mark the important buttons on the oven and microwave. A stove’s controls are usually simple enough not to require any marking. Other than that, I use standard kitchen equipment and utensils.

There are, however, some devices that can make cooking easier for everyone, including people with disabilities. Most of these devices are just regular cooking aids and appliances on the mainstream market, so they are not overpriced, and they are designed to be helpful to everyone. For example:

  • I love my crockpot, where I can mix up ingredients in the morning and let it simmer all day. Crockpots can make life easier for beginning cooks, and people who find it physically challenging to stand over a pot on the stove.

  • A George Foreman grill will cook meat on both sides at once without needing to flip it over.

  • Oxo International makes tools designed to be easy to hold and use. I love their can opener, which has a large ring that I can line up smoothly with the can. They also make peelers and other hand tools that are comfortable and easy to grasp.

  • Nested measuring cups and spoons allow for precise measuring without any tactile markings.

  • An ordinary funnel makes it much easier to pour liquid from a large container into a smaller one without precise aiming. I will also pour dry ingredients like rice or flour from their packaging into a large container so a measuring cup can be dipped in.

  • Cooking oil can be hard to feel. However, if it’s stored in a squeeze bottle, you can pour it out a teaspoon at a time.

Q: Do you need to go to a specialized center to be a competent cook?
A: Absolutely not. Some of the best blind cooks I’ve met have never attended a center. Centers aren’t the right fit for everyone, and some of us just don’t have the time, or other disabilities or health issues can get in the way. But there are other ways to reap the benefits I got from LCB.

I enjoyed my time at LCB, and got a good foundation, but most of my real learning came from practice after I got home. Generally, it can be helpful to start with a few lessons from a good teacher, and then practice on your own. The teacher can be disabled or not. It helps if they know about some disability-specific techniques, but really, the most important quality of a good teacher is that they expect you to succeed. Once you have mastered basic concepts, practicing will let you discover the particular adaptations that work well for you personally. There were some things I was taught that just never clicked, and other tricks I discovered on my own.

Do you have a disability or a loved one with a disability, and want to talk about cooking techniques?Join the Disability Wisdom Facebook group

The Top Ten Advantages of Dating Sighted and Blind People

I first read this brief article (reprinted below) when I was seventeen and in high school. At that time I hadn’t started dating yet, and didn’t know much about the concrete details of dating. Like many teens I often thought about dating and, of course, the related physical activities. Although I had always been told I could fall in love and marry someone if I wanted to, I was also beginning to wonder if my blindness would hold me back from this goal. Many sighted guys seemed to look right past me as a possible partner. Some of the guys in my circle of friends were blind, and in some ways, dating a blind guy seemed less complicated. But, I got the sense that many people expected me to end up with someone sighted, who could “take care” of me. It made me doubt what I could bring to a relationship.

This article gave me hope that dating and marriage were things I could look forward to as a blind woman. It also makes the point that a partner’s disability or lack thereof has little to do with the quality of a relationship.

Since reading this article, I have dated both blind and sighted men. The man I married is sighted. I am happy to say I have experienced nearly all of the positives listed for both types of relationships. Each relationship was its own adventure, and in each case, my partner’s blindness, or mine, has had little impact on the course of the relationship.

I found this article a few years ago in my old files, and shared it with my then-boyfriend, now-husband. We had just started living together at the time. I emailed him the article, and that night he “accidentally, on purpose” kissed me on the nose. I suppose that was his way of assuring me that he may be sighted, but he’s still “blind at heart”, which in many blind circles, is a high honor.

The author of this article, Priscilla McKinley, passed away in 2010. She was a writer, teacher, and advocate for access and inclusion. I was glad for the opportunity to meet her at an NFB convention just before I started college. I am reprinting her words so they can continue to inspire others.

The Top Ten Advantages of Dating Sighted and Blind people

By Priscilla McKinley


From time to time at NFB conventions and other gatherings of blind people, someone raises the question whether it is preferable to date a blind person or a sighted person. This list shows that there are certain advantages either way you look at it.
10. Dating a sighted person means you have a sighted guide when some idiot smashes into you and breaks your cane on your way to class.
Dating a blind person means you have a spare cane when some idiot smashes into you and breaks your cane on your way to class.
9. Dating a sighted person means you have someone to keep you from kissing a nose instead of the lips.
Dating a blind person means you don’t care if you give or get a kiss on the nose instead of the lips.
8. Dating a sighted person means you can take drives in the country on weekends.
Dating a blind person means you can have private NFB conventions on weekends.
7. Dating a sighted person means you have someone to blame when you collide in the hall.
Dating a blind person means it’s no one’s fault when you collide in the hall.
6. Dating a sighted person means you have someone to describe what’s going on during the silent moments of a movie.
Dating a blind person means you have time to get popcorn or go to the bathroom during the silent moments of a movie.
5. Dating a sighted person means you know who’s going to drive on your next date.
Dating a blind person means you know you’re going to take the bus on your next date.
4. Dating a sighted person means you have someone to tell you if your socks match.
Dating a blind person means you have someone who remembers whether you cut the tag out of your orange or your purple shirt.
3. Dating a sighted person means there’s someone to tell you when you have a piece of broccoli stuck between your two front teeth.
Dating a blind person means no one notices when you have a piece of broccoli stuck between your two front teeth.
2. Dating a sighted person means you can ask questions like, “What’s the expiration date on this milk?” and “Does this look infected?”
Dating a blind person means you can ask questions like, “What’s the Braille symbol for S-I-O-N?” and “Does this feel swollen?”

Okay, okay. Hold on. I’m not going to give you the Number One advantage of dating sighted and blind persons until you hear me out. I have some important things to say here. Really!

As students, many of you have dated, are dating, or would like to date. Some of you may have pondered the question of whether or not to date a sighted or a blind person, as I have in the past. Sometimes I thought it would be easier to date a blind person, someone who could understand the challenges blind people face on a daily basis. At other times I thought it would be easier to date a sighted person, someone who could alleviate some of the challenges that go along with blindness.

Then, when I was in a relationship with someone sighted, I would start to question why I was with this person and why he was with me. Was he with me because he liked to play the protector? Was he with me because he had low self-esteem and didn’t think he could get a sighted partner? Was I with him because it was nice to have someone to drive me places when I was in a hurry or read the paper when NFB-NEWSLINE® broke down? Was I with this person because I was afraid to be alone?

When I was in a relationship with a blind person, I found myself asking similar questions. Did we have anything in common besides our blindness? Was I in this relationship because I didn’t think a sighted person could accept me? If I stayed in this relationship, how would we manage as a blind couple?

People enter relationships for many reasons. Like everyone else, we as blind students sometimes enter into relationships for the wrong ones. However, we can make this possibility less likely by possessing self-confidence and good blindness skills. For example, I probably won’t get into a relationship of dependency with a sighted person if I have access to readers, have good Braille and cane travel skills, and thoroughly know the city bus schedule. Likewise, I won’t be likely to enter into a relationship of safety with a blind person if I have the self-confidence to be blind on my own.

In other words, as in any relationship, you have to be happy with yourself before you can make another person happy. The better your blindness skills, the less your blindness will become an issue in a relationship. Both sighted and blind persons will respect you more if you are capable and self-confident. And isn’t that what Dr. Jernigan, Dr. Maurer, and our other mentors in the National Federation of the Blind have been telling us for years? It is respectable to be blind. If you keep repeating this to yourself, you will start to believe it. If you believe it, you will begin to live it. Living that truth will positively affect your relationships with both sighted and blind people.

It is important for all of us as blind individuals to analyze our relationships. I’m not saying you have to get out a microscope and examine each and every move you and your partner make, but you should ask yourself the following questions:
1. Would I still be interested in this person if the status of his/her sight changed? In other words, if you are dating a sighted person, would you still be interested if he/she went blind? Or, if you are dating a blind person, would you be interested if he/she got his/her sight back?
2. Would I still want to be with this person if all of a sudden I could see?
If you are currently in a relationship and answer “no” to either of these questions, you might want to get out that microscope and take a closer look. You might be in the relationship for the wrong reasons. If you answered “yes” to both questions, then you have made it to the Number One advantage of dating a sighted or a blind person, which is the same for both.
1. Dating this person, sighted or blind, means being with the one you love (or at least the one you like a heck of a lot). And isn’t that what really matters?

Blind in the City: Demystifying the Eyes-Free Street Crossing

Photo of me standing at an urban crosswalk
My cane is vertical, meaning I’m not ready to cross yet.

Blind in the City is a new series where I will describe how I do something without vision. It’s written in a Q&A format to take some of the mystery out of how we do things, and how you can support us. I hope to expand this series to other disabilities in the future. Today I’ll be describing how blind people safely, efficiently cross streets. I’ll also talk about how you can help if you observe a blind person at an intersection. (Hint: Most of the time, you can help most by doing nothing at all).

Q: How do you know when it’s safe to cross?
A: Generally, it’s safe to cross when the perpendicular traffic (cars on the street you’re crossing) are standing still. On a quiet residential street, I can just wait until I don’t hear any traffic, and then cross. If there’s a simple stop sign, then I wait until I hear either no traffic, or cars idling (standing still) in front of me, indicating that they have stopped. Finally, in the case of a lighted intersection, the traffic movement will alternate between the traffic in front of me getting to go, and the parallel traffic (cars on the intersecting street to my side) getting to go. When the parallel traffic has a green light, the perpendicular traffic has a red, so when I hear the parallel traffic move on my side, I know it’s my turn to cross.

Q: So, the light is green. Why aren’t you crossing yet?
A: When sighted people cross lighted crosswalks, there is a visual timer showing how much time they have to cross, or at least, whether the “walk” sign is on or not. As a blind person, I need to be sure I’ll have enough time to get across before I go ahead. Unless I know the intersection well, I will typically cross only at the beginning of a walk cycle. I listen for the “parallel surge”, or the first initial burst of traffic movement on the parallel street next to me. So if I arrive at an intersection and parallel traffic is moving, but I’m not sure when the light will change, I might wait until the next cycle. Sometimes though, the cycle begins with a turn arrow. I can’t see the arrow, but I can hear whether parallel traffic is going straight, or turning. Once I’ve heard one car go straight through, I know it’s my turn.

Q: How do you find the crosswalk and stay in it?
A: Some crosswalks have tactile markers or landmarks, like a pedestrian push button. Others don’t, but I can approximate the crosswalk by getting as close to the intersection as possible, right next to the spot where perpendicular cars wait during the red light.
Because I can’t see the painted crosswalk lines, I might not stay exactly in the crosswalk, especially if it’s an angled intersection. But I can still ensure a safe crossing by paying attention to where the perpendicular cars are standing and staying as close to them as possible. The sound of standing cars on one side, and moving parallel cars on the other, is a kind of sound beacon I can use to stay straight. Sometimes I might angle a little left or right while crossing to adjust my position. This is OK, and doesn’t mean I am lost.

Q: That sounds scary! Shouldn’t you use a guide dog instead of a cane? It’d be so much safer!
A: Guide dogs can help follow the crosswalk lines, and they can maneuver the handler out of sudden dangers (such as a driver running a red light). However, they can’t read traffic lights or decide when it’s safe to cross the street. A guide dog handler must be able to follow traffic cues and signal to the dog when it’s time to cross. Also, the dog needs to be free from distractions (see below) to guide effectively. There are trade-offs to cane and dog travel, and blind people can safely cross streets using both methods.

Q: What about those chirping crosswalk poles?
A: Audible pedestrian signals (APS) provide auditory access to some visual crosswalk information. They might make a sound indicating when the walk sign is on, signal the nearing end of a walk cycle, or provide auditory feedback to help locate the crosswalk. Blind people I’ve known are quite divided regarding the usefulness of APS. Some find them very useful, while others feel they distract from traffic cues. They can generate a lot of neighborhood noise, and unless they are vibrotactile, they don’t help deaf-blind pedestrians (see below). APS are not available in many places, so blind people must learn how to cross safely without them. I personally like most APS, but I respect the fact that some blind people find them a nuisance.

Q: If I see a blind person standing on the corner, what should I do?
A: Using the techniques described here, blind people cross streets on a routine basis, sometimes multiple times a day. Most of the time, no help or intervention is necessary. In some cases, a blind pedestrian may ask you a question about the intersection, such as checking whether this is the crosswalk. Occasionally someone might request to follow you across or to take your elbow while crossing. Deaf-blind pedestrians, in particular, may request this assistance if they have trouble hearing traffic cues. They may request assistance verbally or by holding up a written card or sign. I occasionally request assistance if there is loud construction noise in the area. Most of the time, if the blind pedestrian does want help, he or she will start the conversation. If you aren’t sure whether or not help is desired, it’s fine to ask “Would you like any help?” and then respect the answer. It’s important to help only in the way that’s requested, because what works for one person might not work for another.

Q: Is there anything I should avoid doing?
A: A few things. Like driving, eyes-free street crossing requires the juggling of a lot of information. Distractions can make it unnecessarily difficult and dangerous. One of the biggest distractions is well-meaning people urging me to cross before I’m ready to do so. As mentioned earlier, sometimes it’s safest to wait until the beginning of a cycle to cross. In addition, the blind pedestrian you see on the corner may not plan on crossing at all. They might be waiting for an Uber, or meeting a friend. As long as the pedestrian is standing on the curb, not blocking traffic, repeatedly pressuring them to cross is just an exercise in frustration for both parties. Along similar lines, please avoid honking your horn at us or shouting at us from across the street. We probably won’t hear you clearly, so it’ll be more distraction than help. Another thing is not to alter normal traffic behavior by blocking the crosswalk with your car, or trying to “stop traffic” with hand signals in an attempt to protect the blind pedestrian. We rely on normal traffic cues to cross safely, so altering those cues can cause confusion and increase risk for all involved, including drivers. If the blind pedestrian has a guide dog, it’s critically important that you leave the dog alone. No petting, talking or distracting the dog in any way. A working guide dog must pay full attention to the intersection and the handler’s commands in order to ensure a safe street crossing. Finally, as in any situation, it’s important not to grab a person or their mobility aids without their consent If you’d like to offer help, a tap on the shoulder is fine, but grabbing or pulling the person mid-crossing can be very distracting.

So if you see a person on the corner with cane or dog, don’t be alarmed. Let them cross without distraction, and once you’re both on the other side, feel free to strike up a conversation if you’d like.