Last week saw the start of the International Blind Sport Federation (IBSA) World Games 2023, which are taking place at the University of Birmingham and at venues around the Midlands until 27 August.
The IBSA World Games are the largest high-level international event for athletes with vision impairments outside of the Paralympics and Guide Dogs has been working with them to provide accessibility training to volunteers working at the event.
Delivered by Guide Dogs Community Development Officers, the training is aimed to ensure those volunteering at the event are fully equipped with the skills and knowledge to support competitors and those attending the Games by teaching volunteers best practices when offering support to someone with a vision impairment.
Making events more accessible this summer
Whether you’re visiting Birmingham for the IBSA World Games or attending other events around the UK, here are some simple ways you can help to make them more inclusive for someone with sight loss:
Always ask the person if they need support first. Never sneak up on someone with sight loss, grab them or assume they need help without checking. Simply introducing yourself is the first step.
If you are guiding someone, describe key things in the surroundings, such as changes in ground surface, so they can orientate themselves and are aware of their environment.
Everyone is different and it is important to remember to ask open questions such as “do you have any preferences on how you want me to guide you today” or “how would you like me to describe the environment”.
It’s important to put things back where they came from when using public or shared environments and help keep areas clear of clutter. This means people will know where things are when they need to find them and ensures there are no unnecessary obstacles or hazards.
Never distract or feed a guide dog while it is wearing its harness and working, this can be dangerous for both the dog and the owner. Always speak to the guide dog owner, not the dog.
Finally, when leaving someone, let them know you will be leaving them now and always check that they know where they are and that they're in a safe place before you say goodbye.
Guide Dogs is encouraging members of the public to sign up to its Introduction to Sighted Guide Training which is an hour-long online session and free for anyone aged 18 and over to join. Much like learning first aid, sighted guide training is a useful life skill to help create a more inclusive society for people with vision impairments.
Being a Sighted Guide for Guide Dogs means helping someone with sight loss get out and about in their local community. It means increasing someone’s confidence, independence and freedom to enjoy more of what they love. And in some cases, being a Sighted Guide means changing someone’s life and making their dreams come true.
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