Meeting a Blind Person

Recommendation & Tips:

  1. Talk directly to the person who is blind in a normal tone of voice. The fact that he cannot see is no indication that he cannot hear well.
  2. Do not bring attention to a person who is blind or visually impaired when they are performing typical activities such as dialing a telephone, checking their watch, or writing his name in longhand.
  3. Never assume that a blind person needs or even wants assistance. Ask, “May I be of help?” or “There’s water in the center of the table, would you like me to pour a glass for you?” Speak in a normal, friendly tone.
  4. Never grab a blind person’s arm when offering assistance. Instead, permit them to take your arm so that your moves can be anticipated.
  5. When walking with someone who is blind or visually impaired, proceed at a normal pace. Hesitate slightly before stepping up or down.
  6. Be explicit in giving directions. Pointing does not help, and avoid using words such as “over there,” or “that way.” Use “right” or “left” according to the way he is facing, compass directions or the position of the hands on a clock, i.e., “the doorway is at 3 o’clock.”
  7. Do not avoid using descriptive words that refer to sight such as “Nice to see you” or “You look lovely today.”
  8. Identify yourself to a blind person so they know of your presence. “Hello Sam, it’s Pam.” Never ask a blind person to guess who you are by your voice or touch.
  9. Shake hands when you meet or leave a blind person. A cordial handshake substitutes for a friendly smile.
  10. Never leave a person who is blind in an open area. Before leaving, ask if you may guide them to the side of a room or to a chair or other landmark.
  11. When you leave the presence of someone who is blind or visually impaired, either quietly inform them that you are leaving or say “Tom, it was nice speaking with you, I’m leaving now.” This prevents the person who is blind or visually impaired from speaking to an empty chair.
  12. When dining in a restaurant with someone who is blind or visually impaired, ask if they would like you to read the menu. When you do read the menu, always include the price of each item. When dining, offer to identify the items being served, and once again, identify their placement using the face of a clock, “The wine glass is at one o’clock.”