Sighted Guide Technique

This technique is an internationally-accepted approach to giving guidance to a visually impaired person.

To begin guiding, the guide should move up to the side and slightly in front of the blind follower and tap his elbow against the arm of the follower. This gives the blind individual a clear understanding of where the arm is, and alleviates any need for the blind individual to reach out wildly. The blind individual then grasps the elbow of the sighted guide. The sighted guide walks at a normal pace, pausing slightly as a warning at the top or bottom of stairs. When approaching a narrow passage such as between tables in a restaurant, the sighted guide bends the guiding elbow and tucks that hand into the small of the back. This conveys the information that the follower is to move in behind the sighted guide until the hand is dropped back to the guide’s side.

The sighted guide is responsible for assuring that the width of their combined bodies will fit through narrow places and that obstacles are avoided.

In the case of overhanging obstacles (tree branches or signs), the sighted guide should bring the blind individual’s hand up on the guide’s shoulder and instruct the blind person to keep his head below that level until the obstacle is passed.

When reaching a seat, the sighted guide should reach across with his free hand, take the hand of the blind individual, and place it on the nearest portion of the seat (back, seat or arm) and let the blind person know what is being touched. A simple “Here’s the front edge of the chair” or “Here’s the back of the chair and the seat is facing away from you” is adequate.

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