Module 2 - Life Changers


2.2 Lesson plan

2.2 - My Guide - Sighted Guiding

Use the arrows to scroll through the screens to find out the correct way to safely guide someone who is blind or partially sighted from one area to another.

  • Sighted guiding

    Ever found yourself wondering whether it's okay to offer help to a person who is blind or partially sighted, and how you should approach them?

    Don't worry this is a common concern many people have.

    However there are times when someone with sight loss may need a bit of help, even if they have a guide dog or use a cane. This can happen if they find themselves in a strange place, in a heavily crowded area or in a complex town centre.

    This guide explains how you can safely guide someone who has sight loss from one place to another.

    Woman introducing herself to a boy
  • Offering Help

    If you think someone with a sight loss needs help, politely introduce yourself and ask if they need assistance. If they do, ask them where they would like to go and whether they would like to hold your right or left arm (guide dog owners will always hold your left arm as the dog walks on their left hand side) This is called your 'guiding arm'. Offer your arm by gently placing your arm beside theirs. They can then find your elbow with their hand.

    Woman offering to help guide a boy

    Hint

    When you have finished guiding a person always leave them in a safe place, away from danger. Tell them if you are going to leave them on their own.


  • How to Guide

    Stand side by side next to the person you are going to guide. They should be holding your arm at the elbow. You should take the lead, and walk half a step in front of the person you are guiding.

    It is always important to check that the person you are guiding is ready before you set off. Always remember to walk at a steady pace, and never run when guiding someone.

    Woman guiding boy

    Hint

    If you need to turn left or right when you are walking along, pause and tell the person you are guiding before changing direction.


  • Narrow Spaces

    If there is not enough room for you and the person you are guiding to walk side by side, you will have to walk together in single file. Always tell the person you are guiding you are coming up to a narrow space.

    Bring your 'guiding arm' in behind your back so your forearm is horizontal along your back. Ask the person to step behind you and move their grip from your elbow to your forearm. They will then be able to follow you safely as you walk along.

    When you are through the narrow gap, bring your arm back to the original guiding position.

    Hint

    Leave enough room around obstacles, and watch for those at head height as well as ground level.

    Woman guiding boy through narrow space
  • Finding a Seat

    Describe the chair to the person you are guiding. Does it have arms, and a back? Is there a table in front? Is it on rollers? If it is in a row of seats, side step along together until the person you are guiding is in front of their seat with the backs of their knees touching it. They can then sit down.

    Woman guiding boy to a seat

    Hint

    Place your guiding hand on the back of the chair. Ask the person to follow along your guiding arm using their free hand to find the seat. They can explore the chair with their hands before sitting down.


  • Getting on or off a bus or train

    Tell the person you are guiding about the steps - how high are they? How many? If you are getting on or off a train, is there a gap between the train and platform? Then guide the person as you step on or off, walking in front. Walk down aisles in single file using the "narrow spaces" technique.

    Hint

    Give instructions, warn of obstacles or hazards, and describe surroundings - including changes in ground surface - but don't overload the person you're guiding with information. Remember to say "left" or "straight ahead", not "over there"!

    Woman guiding boy off a train
  • Crossing a road

    Stop before the edge of the road and if there is a kerb, tell the person you are guiding whether it is a step up or a step down. Pause before stepping so the person you are guiding can get ready. Only cross when it is safe to do so. Once you have crossed the road, if you are leaving the person, tell them you are going but describe where they are and check they are okay to continue.

    Woman guiding boy across a road

    Hint

    Never push or pull the person you're guiding.

  • Changing sides

    Sometimes you may have to ask the person you are guiding to change sides. This means the person moves across behind you and finds your free elbow, so they can be guided using your other arm.

    Stand still before you ask the person to change sides.

    Place your guiding arm into the "narrow spaces" position and ask the person to step behind you. As they do this, bring your free arm also to the "narrow space" position so the person can change sides seamlessly by moving their arm from one forearm to the other.

    The person who is blind or partially sighted will then step across behind you and find your free elbow.

    Woman changing sides to the boy she is guiding
  • Doorways

    If you were to stand in front of a door, it would either open towards you or away from you. The door would have hinges so it can be opened and shut.

    Facing the door, stop and let the person you are guiding know whether the door opens towards or away from them. Look for the hinges on the door. Are they on your right or left? The person you are guiding should be on the same side as the door hinges. You may have to ask them to change sides.

    Open the door and put your guiding hand on the door handle. Ask the person to use their free hand to follow your guiding arm to find the door handle.

    Woman guiding boy through a doorway

    Hint

    This means they can hold the door open as you both move through the doorway together.


  • Steps Up

    Stop at the bottom of the steps and tell the person you are guiding there are "steps up". Help the person to find the handrail, by placing your guiding hand on it. Ask the person to use their free hand to follow your guiding arm to find the handrail.

    Ask the person to find the bottom step with their foot. When they tell you they are ready walk slowly up the steps together. When walking up or down stairs, you should be one step in front so the person with a visual impairment can feel the depth of the stairs through your movement.

    Stop when you are at the top of the steps. Let the person take their last step up. When they are ready continue walking together.

    Woman guiding boy up steps
  • Steps Down

    Stop at the top of the steps and tell the person you are guiding there are "steps down". Help the person to find the handrail, by placing your guiding hand on it. Ask the person to use their free hand to follow your guiding arm to find the handrail.

    Ask the person to find the edge of the step with their foot. When they tell you they are ready walk slowly down the steps together.

    Stop when you reach the bottom of the steps. Let the person take their last step down. When they are ready continue walking together.

    Hint

    Say when you're leaving, so the person isn't left speaking to an empty space!

    Woman guiding boy down steps

Case Study: Mike and Bob

Mike and Bob

Watch Mike and Bob getting out and about with their My Guide partnership. To find out more about My Guide and how to gain a level 1 qualification visit guidedogs.org.uk/services/my-guide/

Watch video