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Etiquette for Use with People Who Have Vision Impairments

When you are with a person who is blind or has vision problems:

  • Speak directly, not through an intermediary. Use a natural conversational volume and tone.
     
  • When you are greeting a person who is blind or visually impaired, use their name and don't forget to identify yourself. For example, "Hi Sam, it's Joe."
     
  • When the person enters a room, be sure to greet them, using your own name (as above).
     
  • It is really okay to use say things like "See you soon." Feel comfortable using everyday words relating to vision like "look", "see", "watching TV".
     
  • During a conversation, give verbal feedback to let them know you're listening. They may not be able to see the expression on your face.
     
  • Do not take care of tasks for a person that they would normally do. First ask if they need help, then offer to assist, and be guided by the person's response to your offer.
     
  • If you see someone about to encounter a dangerous situation, be calm and clear about your warning. For example, if they are about to bump into a pole, calmly and clearly call out, "Wait there for a moment; there is a pole in front of you."
     
  • Never hold a person's arm while walking. Let the person hold your arm. This will let them walk slightly behind you, and the motion of your body will tell them what to expect. Offer verbal cues as to what is ahead when you approach steps, curbs, escalators, or doors.
     
  • When you leave, say you are leaving. Never leave a person who is totally blind or severely visually impaired in an open area. Instead, lead them to the side of a room, to a chair, or some landmark.
     
  • Never distract, pet, or offer food to a guide dog without permission from the owner. The dog is working and must not be petted without permission.

For more information contact access @ uua.org.

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Last updated on Wednesday, April 20, 2011.

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