Veronica With Four Eyes

How To Describe Flowers for the Blind and Visually Impaired

A while ago, someone on the internet asked an interesting question- “how would you describe a flower to a blind person?” It’s a fairly simple question, but one of my friends and I were talking about it when I recently joined them on a shopping trip to pick up a plant for another friend’s birthday. I loved listening to my friend describe the beautiful plants as we walked through the store, and I was able to figure out the most popular parts of a flower that they would mention. Here are my tips for how to describe flowers for the blind and visually impaired, whether they are flowers in the garden, at the store, or floral patterns on clothing.

Color

What color is it? Don’t worry about trying to explain what a particular color looks like, just say the color name, or the shade if someone has good color vision. Some examples of good color descriptions include:

  • Dark purple with a yellow center
  • Yellow with red tips
  • Pure white with a green center
  • Sections of blue and pink alternating flowers

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Stem

Is there an unique stem? How long is the stem? Some flowers have short stems that go up to my ankle, while others have long stems that are as big as my arm, or sometimes almost as tall as I am! Texture is also an interesting part of stem description- for example, roses have thorns on their stems.

Flower size

How tall are the flowers? This can be included with the stem description, but if my friend didn’t mention the stem, they would make sure to indicate how tall the flower was, or how wide it was at least. If we were in a science setting, I would have asked for specific measurements, but since we were just walking around a store, I found that general measurements like small, medium, and large were enough for me to gauge the size.

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Petal size/petal shape

How big are the petals? What shape are they? Are they long and slender, short and wide, shaped like a heart? Or are they very small? When my friend picked up an orchid, they mentioned that the petals were about the size of my thumb, with a rounded shape, which sounded really pretty.

Petal position

What is the petal formation shaped like? Do they extend outward from the center? Arranged in a vertical formation? Or are they close together? For the orchid my friend was holding, there were three petals close together that were in a shape similar to a pinwheel. When we looked at a daisy, the petals extended outward from the center and were evenly distributed around the center.

Quantity of flowers

How many flowers are there in a given area? Unless they are in a pot, flowers don’t tend to grow by themselves, and often have other flowers surrounding them. If there are multiple types of flowers together, my friend would describe each type from left to right.

Exploring flowers by touch

If someone has a gentle touch, there might be an option to explore the shape of flowers by lightly touching them, making sure not to damage them. I didn’t like to do this very much because of three reasons:

  1. I was worried about being stung by a bee
  2. I don’t have a lot of sensitivity in my hands due to Chiari Malformation
  3. Because my friend thought it would be amusing to have me “lightly touch” a cactus- ouch!

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Using Google Assistant to identify flowers

When I don’t have a friend with me and still want to get a description of flowers, I use the Google Assistant app on my phone to take a picture of the flower and look up the species that way. I can get all of the information I mentioned above, plus additional information if I need it. However, I still prefer listening to descriptions generated by humans whenever possible.

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Final thoughts

I love listening to my friend describe flowers to me, as they are extremely passionate about plants and teaching others about different types of flowers. I hope that this post is helpful for people learning how to describe flowers for the blind and visually impaired!

How to describe flowers to people that are blind and visually impaired, inspired by my friend who loves to describe plants



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