Guiding a person who is blind or has low vision

Sometimes people who are blind or have low vision find it useful to be guided by another person. One way to do this safely and efficiently is to use sighted guide techniques. Not all people with little or no sight will use these methods, so it is important to ask what (if any) specific assistance they require.

Use this link for the audio described version of the video guiding and communicating with a person who is blind or has low vision.

Touching the back of a persons hand

Getting started

Ask the person if they need assistance. If they do need assistance, contact the back of their hand with the back of yours.

Holding the guide�s arm above the elbow

They can then hold your arm just above the elbow.

Walking together

Walking

When you start walking, make sure the person is half a step behind you and slightly to the side. Walk at a pace that is comfortable for both of you. Look ahead for obstacles at foot level, head height and to the side.

Moving arm toward the centre of your back

Narrow spaces

Tell the person you are guiding that a narrow space is ahead. Move your guiding arm towards the centre of your back to indicate that they need to walk behind you. The person should step in behind you while still holding your arm. When you have passed through the narrow space bring your arm back to its usual position by your side.

Changing sides

Changing sides

If you need to change sides with the person you are guiding it is important they do not lose contact with you. This is easiest to achieve if you remain stationary. Allow the person to hold your guiding arm with both of their hands. They can then move one hand to reach your other arm without losing contact.

Going through a doorway

Doorways

When passing through a doorway, ensure the person who is blind or vision impaired is on the hinged side of the door. As you get close to the door, explain which way it opens. Open the door and walk through, allowing the person you are guiding to close it behind you using their free hand.

Going down stairs

Steps and staircases

Stop at the first step and tell the person you are guiding whether the steps go up or down. Change sides if necessary to ensure the person you are guiding can use the handrail. Start walking when the person is ready, remaining one step ahead of them. Stop when you reach the end of the stairs and tell the person you are at the top or bottom.

Guiding to a seat

Seating

Explain which way the chair is facing and where it is placed in relation to the rest of the room. Then walk up and place your guiding arm on the chair and explain which part of the chair you are touching. The person you are guiding can then move their hand down your arm to locate the chair to seat themselves.

Hand on roof of car

Getting into a car

Tell the person you are guiding which way the car is facing and which door they will be getting into. Place your guiding arm onto the door handle and ask the person to move their hand down your arm.

Allow them to open the door and seat themselves. If the car is unfamiliar to them, place your arm inside on the roof so they can follow it and avoid bumping their head. Once seated, allow the person to close the car door.

Describe surroundings

When describing the person's surroundings, try to be specific. Rather than saying, 'there is a spare seat to your right', it might be more helpful to say 'the seat next to you, on your right, is occupied but the next seat along is vacant'.

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