As a first step, it is helpful to ask yourself why you are uncomfortable meeting new people. Is it because you can’t see the person’s face clearly or can’t tell where his or her hand is to shake it? Are you concerned about the way you might appear to other people?

Meeting new people can be a challenge, regardless of your vision situation. The next time you’re in a social setting with new people, remember that they may also share your discomfort.

People who don’t know you can’t understand what you’re able to see, or even whether you can see anything at all. This sense of the “unknown” can tend to make many people feel uncomfortable when speaking to an individual who is blind or has low vision.

The person you are meeting for the first time may be thinking “Can she see me?” “I wanted to shake her hand, but she didn’t reach out for mine. Should I say something to her?” “Should I ask if she needs assistance? If so, will that offend her?”

Understand that some people might be curious about your vision impairment and feel the need to ask questions. Also, people sometimes behave inappropriately when they lack knowledge about blindness or low vision.

You can help reduce your mutual discomfort and take control of the situation by introducing yourself first. When you learn to “take charge” in these types of social situations, you’ll find that your confidence will return very soon.