Do's and Don'ts When Interacting with a Person who is Blind

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.

  • DO refer to Sighted Guide Techniques for more information.

General guidelines:

  • 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.

Last Revised: November 11, 2014