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Ten Rules of Courtesy to the Blind

Provided to Visit Rochester by American Council of the Blind

  1. When you offer assistance to a blind person, do so directly. Just ask: “May I be of help?” Speak in a normal tone. Address him/her directly: this helps him/her locate you.

  2. In guiding a blind person, permit him/her to take your arm. A nice way is to offer an arm and say: “Here’s my left arm,” or the right, as the case may be. He/she knows, then, how to take you arm and he/she will respond to your motion much as a dancer follows a partner. NEVER “grab” the blind person’s arm; he/she can’t anticipate your movements if you do.

  3. In walking with a blind person, proceed at a normal pace; hesitate slightly before stepping up or down; don’t drag him/her over the curb. Tell him/her if you are going up or down. After crossing a street, see that he/she is started straight in the direction he/she wants to take, and caution him/her of any unusual obstructions ahead.

  4. In giving directions, don’t point. Say: three blocks ahead, cross third intersection, turn left two-and-a-half blocks and the building is on your right. Don’t identify intersections by street names, he/she can’t read the signs. Don’t use the “tall white building” as a landmark; he/she can’t see it.

  5. In showing a blind person to a chair, place his/her hand upon the back of it; don’t try to push him/her into it. His/her touch will tell him/her the type, width and height of the chair.

  6. When serving food to a blind person who is eating without a sighted companion, offer to read the menu – including the price of each item. As you place each item on the table, call his/her attention to it, as: “here’s your water.” If he/she wants you to cut up his/her food or serve it from a casserole or platter, he/she will request that help. It’s never bad form to offer, however.

  7. When conversing with a blind person, use normal terms as well as normal tones; he/she may greet you by saying: “It’s good to see you again.” Speak directly to him/her; if your gaze wanders, your voice follows.

  8. If making change in bills of more than one denomination, hand him/her the bills separately and identify each denomination as you hand it to him/her. This is not necessary with coins; he/she knows them by touch.

  9. If you are a police officer, identify yourself as such when you approach a blind person; he/she may ask help from you that he/she would not from others.

  10. Above all, don’t pity him/her. The blind are just like you, except them cannot see.