Do's and Don'ts When Interacting with a Person who is Blind
Sighted Guide Techniques
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
DO give specific directions like "the desk is five feet
to your right" as opposed to saying "the desk is over
DO give a clear word picture when describing things to an individual
with sight loss. Include details such as color, texture, shape and
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
DON'T be afraid to use words like "blind" or
"see." Their eyes may not work but it is still "nice to see
If you see a Blind person who seems to be in need of
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
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
If you are asked to guide a Blind person:
DO allow the person you are guiding to hold your arm and follow as
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
DO hesitate briefly at a curb or at the beginning of a flight of
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 they depend.
DO treat Blind people as individuals. People with visual disabilities
come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They each have their own strong
points and weaknesses, just like everyone else.
Last Revised: August 17, 2010