Navigating the world can be challenging for someone who is visually impaired. While people are often surprised at how independent blind and low-vision people can be, sometimes, a helping hand can make a world of difference in their daily life. It’s important not to assume that someone walking with a white cane or a guide dog needs help, but it usually can’t hurt to offer assistance. When you do, it’s good to know how best to help. Here are 4 tips on how to be a sighted guide.
1: Ask for Permission
Can you imagine how you would react if you were walking down the street and a stranger grabbed your arm and yanked you in a different direction? Now, imagine that scenario, but you can’t tell who it is that grabbed you.
Always ask someone if they need a guide or assistance before stepping in, unless it is an emergency. Some people may be glad for the help. Others may want to continue moving independently. It is important to respect their choice if so.
2: Offer Your Arm
If they accept your offer, extend your arm and ask them to grab on just above your elbow. It may help to verbalize where your arm is or to let them trail from your hand up to the elbow.
3: Communicate Clearly
Provide clear directions to the person you are guiding. Make sure they are aware of any obstacles in their path, such as steps, curbs, or low-hanging branches.
4: Be Mindful of How You are Walking
When guiding someone, it is important to stay aware of where you are going as well as where the person you are guiding is at all times. If You walk around an obstacle, make sure there is enough room for the other person to get around too.
Finally, make sure you are moving at a comfortable pace for the person you are guiding. Ask them if they need to go slower, or if they can speed up. Different people will have different preferences, so try to figure out what that is as you start moving.
Be sure to check out this Teaching Tips Tuesday video as well!