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Kent Association for the Blind

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Illustration of a man with a long cane holding the elbow of another man who is guiding him

There are times when a person with low vision has difficulty finding their way and would appreciate assistance. Please do offer to help.

Walking together side by side
When guiding, stand slightly in front of the person and ask them to grip your arm just above your elbow. Keep your arm close to your side as this helps you lead the way. Remember to check that the person knows where they are before saying goodbye.

Single file through a narrow space
Explain that you need to walk in single file and that you are moving your guiding arm behind your back. Ask the person to move behind you while still holding your arm. Walk forward. If the person keeps their arm out straight they will not tread on your heels.

Illustration of a man guiding another man with a long cane

Changing sides
Stand still. Ask the person to cross behind you, keeping in touch with you until they can transfer their hold to your other arm.

Going through a doorway
It is easier if the person with low vision stands by your side, nearest to the door hinge, whilst still holding your arm. Open the door with your non-guiding hand, whilst encouraging the person to take the weight of the door with their free hand. In this way they are still in control.

Illustration of a man guiding a sight impaired man down a flight of stairs and then up some stairs

Going up and down stairs
Pause just before you reach the steps. Say whether they lead up or down. Check that the person is standing on the same side as the hand rail; if not change sides. Move your guiding hand to the hand rail so that the person can hold this with their free hand. Put your foot on the first step and set off when you are both ready. Keep one step ahead, walking normally at a comfortable pace. Pause when you both reach level ground. Tell the person when you reach the last step.

Crossing the road
Pause squarely at the kerb, step down, cross the road. Pause briefly before stepping up onto the pavement.

Sitting at the theatre/cinema
Stand side by side at the end of the row, facing forward, ensuring that you are on the side nearest the seats. With the person holding your arm step sideways along the row. Change sides when you leave so that you lead the way.

If you have problems getting in and out of a car, try sitting on a plastic bag or piece of polythene. This will make it easier for you to swivel round on the seat.

Illustration of a man guiding a sight impaired man on to a chairSeating
Place your guide hand on the back of the chair, stating which way the chair is facing. Allow the person to slide their hand down your arm to the chair back then on to find the seat. Never push a person with a sight impairment onto a chair.

Getting into a car
Say which way the car is facing. Place your guide hand on the door handle. Suggest the person slides their grip hand down your arm to find the handle. Ask them to find the roof of the car with their other hand. They can then open the door, duck their head and find the seat; after sitting down they can swing their legs into the car and close the door. Help may be needed with finding the seat-belt.

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