Assisting the Blind
Talking with a person who is blind
When conversing with a person who is blind use normal terms as well as normal tones. Go ahead and use words like "see" and "look". Speak directly to the person, not through a third party. Interpretation is not necessary. When asking a question, call the person by name so he will know he is being addressed.
Leaving a person who is blind
When you're leaving a person who is blind, announce your departure. Don't leave him stranded or talking to himself. Above all, remember common sense and sensitivity to others are most important.
What is Blindness?
Blindness does not always mean total loss of sight. A person whose visual acuity does not exceed 20/200 in the better eye, with best correction, or whose field of vision is restricted to 20 degrees or less is considered "blind." Some people with rapidly progressive visual problems which will result in blindness may benefit from services of the Division of Services for the Blind.
Serving as a sighted guide
When walking with a person who is blind move at a normal pace about one half step ahead. He will normally hold onto the sighted person's arm just above the elbow. The person who is blind can then feel and easily follow the guide's movements up, down, straight, left, right, etc. A slight hesitation before stepping up or down is helpful.
Serving food to a person who is blind
When serving a person who is blind and eating without a sighted companion, offer to read the menu - including the price of each item.
As you place each item on the table, call his attention to it, as: "Here's your water." If he wants you to cut up his food or serve it from a casserole or platter, he will request that help. It's never bad form to offer, however.
Making change for a person who is blind
If making change in bills of more than one denomination, hand him the bills separately and identify each denomination as you hand it to him. This is not necessary with coins; he knows them by touch.
Assisting a person who is blind across the street
Let the blind person know you are there by asking, "May I be of assistance?" Speak in a normal tone. If he accepts your offer, let him take your arm. Never "grab" the blind person's arm, he can't anticipate your movements if you do. After crossing a street see that he is going in the direction he wants to take and caution him about any obstruction ahead.
Giving directions to a person who is blind
Always give directions verbally - pointing or gesturing will not help. Using terms such as "left," "right ",”straight ahead" or compass points will assist the person in reaching his destination. Street names, if known, can be helpful to some people who are blind.
Assisting a person who is blind with seating
In showing a person who is blind to a chair, place his hand upon the back or arm of it; don't try to push him into it. His touch will tell him the type, width and height of the chair.
If you need this material in an alternative format such as large print, tape, Braille or computer disk, please contact our Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator at 501-682-5463 or 1-800-960-9270.
Lost Sight Does Not Mean Lost Opportunity in Arkansas
The Arkansas Department of Human Services is in compliance with Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act and is operated, managed and delivers services without regard to age, religion, disability, political affiliation, veteran status, sex, race, color or national origin.
Any person who is severely visually impaired and is interested in receiving additional information or services can contact:
Division of Services for the Blind
700 Main Street
Little Rock, AR 72203
Telephone: 501 682-5463
Toll Free: 1-800-960-9270