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Courtesy Guidelines

Courtesy Guidelines - Departments & Programs, UW Medical Foundation, Patient Resources, Social Work Services Quick Guide, Social Work Manual, Population Specific, Visually Impaired


Treat a person who is blind or visually impaired just as you would anyone else. People who are blind represent a typical cross section of the population. The following suggestions may be helpful when meeting someone who is blind:

  1. Offer assistance directly. Just ask, "May I be of help?" Speak in a normal tone.
  2. If guiding, offer your arm by touching the back of your hand to the back of his/her hand. Never "grab" the arm of cane of someone who is blind.
  3. Walk at a normal pace, pause briefly before stepping up or down.
  4. Don't point if giving directions. The word "there" is meaningless. Be specific: use terms such as "left" or "right" and relate appropriate landmarks.
  5. Show the location of a chair by directing the individual's hand to the back of the chair.
  6. Speak directly in a normal tone of voice when conversing. It is acceptable to use terms such as "see", "look" and "watch".
  7. If making change in bills of more than one denomination, hand the bills seperately to the person and identify the demonination, or simply tell them which order they are in.
  8. Do not touch or distract a dog guide when used for mobility. Inform your friend if someone else is attempting to pet the dog.
  9. Describe location of food on a plate using the clock method: 3,6,9, or 12.
  10. If you have questions - just ask!

Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired

More Guidelines from the American Foundation for the Blind