Blind or Vision Impaired

A person with sight loss sees much less or may see nothing at all. Different eye conditions create different difficulties. Very few people are totally blind. A few have perception of light only; some have a loss of vision in the centre of their eye, others have no side vision. Some see everything as a blur while others have blank spots. Some people with sight loss have enough vision to read but may have difficulty with night vision.

How you can help

  • Greet a person by saying your name, as he or she may not recognise your voice. Do not ask or expect them to guess who you are, even if they know you.
  • Do not go out of your way to avoid using phrases such as “see you later” or “it’s great to see you“ – people who are blind or vision impaired say these things too.
  • A person using a cane or guide dog has only one hand free for opening doors and carrying belongings. Offer assistance if you think it is needed but do not be offended if your offer is refused.
  • NEVER make a fuss of, or feed, a guide dog – he or she is working and should not be distracted when in harness. Always ask the owner’s permission first.
  • When guiding a person who is blind or vision impaired, walk slightly ahead of them, allowing them to take your arm just above the elbow.
  • Mention any stairs (saying whether they are up or down), or obstacles in advance.
  • When walking with a person who uses a cane or a guide dog adjust your pace to match theirs.