When speaking with a person who is Blind:
- DO identify yourself, especially when entering a room. Don’t say, “Do you know who this is?”
- DO speak directly to the individual. Do not speak through a companion. Unless they are hard of hearing, they can speak for themselves.
- DO give specific directions like, “The desk is five feet to your right,” as opposed to saying, “The desk is over there.”
- DO give a clear word picture when describing things to an individual with vision loss. Include details such as color, texture, shape and landmarks.
- DO touch them on the arm or use their name when addressing them. This lets them know you are speaking to them, and not someone else in the room.
- DON’T shout when you speak. They can’t see but often have fine hearing.
- DON’T be afraid to use words like “blind” or “see.” Their eyes may not work, but it is still, “Nice to see you.”
If you see a Blind person who seems to be in need of assistance:
- DO introduce yourself and ask the person if he needs assistance.
- DO provide assistance if it is requested.
- DO respect the wishes of the person who is blind.
- DON’T insist upon trying to help if your offer of assistance is declined.
If a Blind person asks you for directions:
- DO use words such as “straight ahead,” “turn left,” “on your right.”
- DON’T point and say, “Go that way,” or, “It’s over there.”
If you are asked to guide a Blind person:
- DO allow the person you are guiding to hold your arm and follow as you walk.
- DO move your guiding arm behind your back when approaching a narrow space so the person you are guiding can step behind you and follow single-file.
- DO hesitate briefly at a curb or at the beginning of a flight of stairs.
- DO tell the person you are guiding whether the steps go up or down.
- DO allow the person you are guiding to find the handrail and locate the edge of the first step before proceeding.
- DON’T grab the person you are guiding by the hand, arm, or shoulder and try to steer him.
- DON’T grab the person’s cane or the handle of a dog guide’s harness.
- DON’T pet, feed, or distract a guide dog. They are not pets; they are working companions on whom a Blind person depends.
- DO treat Blind people as individuals. People with visual disabilities come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses, just like everyone else.
Source: WI Department of Health: www.dhs.wisconsin.gov