A comprehensive guide to how to interact with and assist a person with vision loss.

Many people would like to assist a blind or visually impaired person when appropriate but hesitate because they don’t know how. Often called “Sighted Guide” or “Human Guide”, these techniques are simple and easy to learn. The Town of Brookline, Massachusetts, has produced an instructional video telling and showing via demonstration clips, how to guide a person with vision loss in a variety of common situations.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, maintaining social distance when guiding a visually impaired person can be challenging. Modifications to the standard guiding techniques are recommended as we work together to mitigate the transmission of the virus. When guiding a visually impaired person, both the individual and the guide should be wearing masks and be facing in the same direction, so their breath is not directed towards one another. Using a glove can protect from skin-to-skin contact.

Ideas for safe guiding while social distancing: placing a hand on the guide’s back instead of the arm; putting a shopping cart between the individual and the guide with the guide in front; using an adequately sanitized extra cane, as a guiding pole with each person holding one end; and verbal guiding from behind the person with vision loss. The person with vision loss should also be using their usual mobility aid, such as a cane or guide dog, for added safety.

This video is free to all and may be used by any agencies, organizations, groups, or individuals who find it useful. The Brookline Commission on Disability welcomes questions, feedback and reports on how it is being used.

Contact the Town of Brookline’s Community Relations Specialist and ADA / Section 504 Coordinator, at:
1-617-730- 2326
TTY 1-617-730-2327