Written July, 2010

Guiding and being guided.


Author unknown

Some sighted people choose to refer to these techniques as sighted guide techniques. Somewhere, sometime, someone decided that sighted folks were the only folks who could guide people who are blind and so they called these techniques "sighted guide".

Guiding techniques, allow a person who is blind to travel about a half step behind their guide. Most often the person offering to be a guide will walk up to the person who is blind and ask "Do you need any assistance?" Oftentimes that person may say "No," I do not, but if they say "Yes,", then the person asks which arm the person would like to use. Most often the person being guided will suggest taking the person's right arm, usually I choose to ask my guides, especially if it's their first time, "which would be most comfortable for them?"

The person being a guide will then positions themselves on either the left or right side of the person being guided and let the person know where they are. The person being guided then takes their arm, just above the elbow, or puts their hand on the guide's shoulder. I, generally have found that to take a person's arm is a more secure form of guiding since the guide may have to move rather quickly at some point and if I have their arm it will be easier for me to maintain my position just slightly behind them because my hand will not slip off their shoulder.

Guides, it is always a good idea to let the person you are guiding know about curbs, and steps, up or down, by stopping and telling them. If you go up the first step, let the person you are guiding find that step with their cane or foot or take the rail on their right side before you continue on. This is especially true when being a guide for senior citizens. It is not necessary to put their hand on the rail, however when taking someone to a table, you can always let them know where they are in relation to the chair and ask them if they would like you to put their hand on the back of the chair so they know where it is.

Those of you who are taken by the arm, and forcibly moved, simply raise the arm being held on, too, place your hand on the wrist of the offending person, raise their wrist and take your other hand and grasp their elbow, or inform them that you do not need their assistance. I will always remember the time I was forced across an intersection. I waited until the person had left, re-crossed the intersection and went on my way.

If you are the person being guided by someone, it being their first time, it is very easy to teach these techniques. Suggest to them that when going through narrow spaces like aisles in a store that they put their arm behind their back, that is, the part of the arm, below the elbow. When they tell you the aisle is getting narrow, have them bend their arm so that the portion, below the elbow is behind them, resting just above their hips, drop your hand down their arm, to their wrist, straighten your arm and walk directly behind them. When the aisle again widens, have them return their arm to their side, move your hand back up to just above their elbow and continue on. It is not necessary to hang on, tight to their arm, say for dear life, they are your guide, not your anchor. If you find your guide is walking too fast, just ask them to slow down. By the way, kids, especially enjoy being guides.

When going through a door, ask your guide to inform you which side the door will be on. When they open the door, stick out your free hand on that side to grasp it, hold the door open and proceed through it. If the door opens to your left, and you are holding on to your guides' right arm with your left hand, have them stop, remove your hand from their arm, take their arm with your right hand, that is now just above their hips swing your left hand out to the left and grab the door as they move forward. Don't make them hold the door open for you; it's practically impossible for them to do that, anyway, since they are in front of you. If you are a guide and you are guiding someone to a chair or a couch, stop in front of it, and let the person know where they are in relation to it. Is it in front of them? Is it behind them? Also, car doors can be a real problem. Allow the person to open the door themselves, that way they are more aware of where they are in relation to the car and the door.

In closing, guiding and being guided isn't difficult. If you are being guided, take the time to explain how it is done to your guide. The more comfortable you help them feel, the more they will want to be your guide the next time. If you are a guide for someone, relax, take your time and remember they won't break, all you need to do is let them know when the terrain changes or there are curbs or steps, up or down. There you go,

many thanks

Best wishes.

The Blink Fundraising Team

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