Guiding a Person Who Is Blind or Has Low Vision

Unless they have requested it, always offer your assistance to people who are blind or visually impaired before you attempt to guide or lead them.

Once it is clear that they would like your help, then it is appropriate to assist them.

In these situations, don’t be afraid to identify yourself as an inexperienced sighted guide and ask the person who is blind or visually impaired for tips. The following techniques are commonly used:

Holding the Elbow
The person you are guiding holds your arm slightly above your elbow.

Walking Half-A-Step Behind
The person you are guiding walks slightly behind and to the side of you so that you can safely lead.

Going Down Steps
When approaching steps, pause briefly so that the person who is blind or visually impaired knows to expect a change in the ground’s surface.

Reaching the End of the Stairs
Pause briefly at the end of stairs so that the person you are guiding knows that you have reached the platform.

Going through Narrow Doorways
Put your arm behind your back when you are walking through narrow spaces. The person you are guiding will feel your arm movement and step behind you so that both of you can walk single file.

Backtracking
If you need to turn around, announce it. Then face the person you are guiding and allow the person to take your other arm.

Approaching a Chair
Place your hand on the back of the chair. The person you are guiding will slide the hand that was holding onto your elbow down your arm and to your hand on the seat back.

Request services online or contact us at 800-552-7103 or info@dsb.wa.gov for more information.