Sighted Guide Techniques Overview

A sighted guide is someone who accompanies a person who is blind/vision-impaired during a travel situation. Listed below are some guidelines to use when you are a sighted guide.

  1. Allow the blind person to take your arm—grasping just above the back of the elbow; never take his/her arm and push forward. Walk in a relaxed manner, allowing the companion to interpret cues your body gives. It is not necessary to flex your arm in a ninety degree angle. Your personal preference—arm fully extended, flexed … can be used.

  2. Approach travel situations squarely, i.e. curbs, doorways, steps.

  3. When approaching curbs and steps, walk up to as close to the edge as possible, come to a slight pause, allowing the companion to come along side before ascending or descending. Allow the person to hold the handrail if desired. Walk up and down steps one stair step ahead of your companion.

  4. When in areas where guide and companion cannot walk comfortably abreast (companion ½ step behind guide) a predetermined cue or verbal cue can be given. The two should walk single file with the companion directly behind the guide. This will necessitate the extending of the companion’s arm that is holding on to the guide’s arm to eliminate stepping on the guide’s heels.

  5. It is not necessary for the guide to give a play-by-play account of everything he/she sees unless the companion requests such information. However, pertinent changes in terrain or events may be helpful.

  6. When entering a vehicle, a blind person can engineer his/her own actions and the guide should step away after the rider/companion is in contact (by touch) with the door.

  7. Many times in an awkward situation, humorous statements will relieve any tension that may be developing.

As you begin to develop efficiency as a guide you will learn to relax and walk naturally. Avoid becoming mechanical in your actions.

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