How to be a Guide

Man with white cane talking to womanFor starters, do not push, pull, or grab a visually impaired person, except in the case of an emergency. Always ask the person if they would like sighted guide support.

Man holding upper arm of sighted guideTo begin the guiding process, the person with vision loss bends their elbow and gently grasps the back of their guide’s arm just above the elbow.

As the guide, keep your arm relaxed at your side.

Man with white cane walking with sighted guideWalking together at a normal pace, stay half a step ahead and describe landmarks and things of interest along the route.

Always alert the person you’re guiding about potential obstacles in the path: stationary objects, narrow passages, doors, steps, and irregularities in the pavement or floor.

Sighted guide on stairs with man with white caneApproach stairs and curbs squarely, never at an angle, and be sure to announce whether the steps go up or down.

On steps, it is important to pause and give the visually impaired person time to take hold of a handrail, if available, and locate the edge of the first step with their foot.

Stay one step ahead on stairs and steps.

You may want to mention when there is one step left.

Hand making contact with back of chairOnce you have reached your destination and described the surroundings, put the person in touch with an object such as a piece of furniture or a wall. Then you are free to break contact.