To communicate with a blind person is very simple. Use your voice as a tool instead of using actions/gestures.
For example, use your voice to say yes or no instead of nodding or shaking your head.
Do remember there are 2 groups of people with vision impairment.
a) Totally blind people – they have no vision all.
b) Low- vision people – they may see a lot ( 50% or less of what you see) To a sighted person, they may seem like they can see and yet can’t see. Just help them when they asked for it.
Then there are 2 different groups of people with vision impairment.
a) Those were born blind. This group of blind people will not have any mental images. They were rehabilitated and educated by using their other senses.
b) Those who became blind or low-visioned in their later years.
Points on how to guide and communicate with a blind person.
- When you join a group or room where there are blind people, please announce your presence by stating your name.
- Likewise, please inform blind people that you are leaving the group or room whether temporarily or permanently.
- Similarly, when a blind person/s join a group of sighted people, please let the blind person/s know who are the sighted people present.
- When guiding a blind person/s to a chair, please place their hand on the back of the chair.
- When guiding a blind person/s to a vehicle, for example, taxi or car, you can volunteer to open the door to the vehicle. Then please the hand of the blind person/s on the top of the door.
- If there is no back of the chair, then you would like to inform the blind person/s about it. For example, saying that it is a stool in front of them.
- When you are placing food or beverages in front of a blind person/s, please inform them. Otherwise, they may sweep the food or beverages off the table! This happens when a blind person/s are engrossed in conversation and didn’t pay attention to the sound or being aware of someone placing food or beverages in front of them. Also, possibly that the environment is too noisy.
- When guiding a blind person/s to a door of a room, especially when the blind person/s is unfamiliar with the environment, you may offer to help by saying, ” here is my elbow” and you may proffer your elbow closer to the blind person/s.
- When guiding a blind person/s, please let the blind person/s to hold your elbow. It is inappropriate to hold the shoulder.
- When you are guiding and walking with a blind person/s, please slow down a bit when approaching flights of stairs.
- When a SAVH blind employee is involved in a face-to-face interview with a reporter and that the blind employee may indicate that the interview is not to be recorded, then the sighted staff should ensure that there is no secret recording done by the reporter. This incident had happened before. Fortunately, a sighted employee saw the reporter recording secretly.
Above are some points that I can think of. I believe there are more points. I would like to say that blind people will appreciate it very much if and when a sighted person can help us by seeing and knowing by using their eyes and mouth. Thank you.