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Tips for People who are Blind or have Low Vision


  1. Always ask the person how you can best assist.
  2. Ask/Look for:
  • An identification bracelet with special health information.
  • Emergency contact information to reach the person’s family.
  • Essential equipment and supplies (for example: medicine, wheelchair, walker, oxygen, batteries, communication devices: head pointers, alphabet boards, speech synthesizers, etc.).
  • Mobility aids (for example, wheelchair, cane, walker or an assistance or service animal).
  • Special health instructions (for example, allergies, medicines, etc.).
  • Special communication information (for example, the person might say [s]he is stressed, look confused, withdraw, start rubbing their hands together).
  • Conditions that people might misinterpret (for example, someone might mistake Cerebral Palsy for drunkenness).
  • Try to include the person in conversations with other people; don’t talk about a person in front of that person.
  • If the person does not use words to speak, look for gestures or other behaviors that communicate what that person wants to express.
  • Don’t assume that people do not understand just because they don’t use words to communicate.
  • Ask the person if they are comfortable with the word 'blind.'
  • There is a difference between low vision and blindness. Some people who are "legally blind" have some sight, and may see some shapes and contrasts, while others are totally blind.
  • Announce your presence, speak out, and then enter the area.
  • Don't be afraid to use words like "see," "look" or "blind."
  • State the nature of the emergency and offer them your arm. As you walk, advise them of any obstacles. Offer assistance but let the person explain what help is needed.
  • Do not grab or attempt to guide them without first asking them. Let the person grasp your arm or shoulder lightly for guidance.
  • They may choose to walk slightly behind you to gauge your body's reactions to obstacles.
  • Be sure to mention stairs, doorways, narrow passages, ramps, etc.
  • When guiding someone to a seat, place the person's hand on the back of the chair
  • If leading several individuals who are blind or have low vision, ask them to guide the person behind them. Remember that you'll need to communicate any written information orally.
  • When you have reached safety, orient the person to the location and ask if any further assistance is needed.
  • If the person has a service animal, don't pet it unless the person says it is ok to do so. Service animals must be evacuated with the person.


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