Assisting people with sight loss during COVID-19 pandemic
We have put together some helpful suggestions about how to assist people with sight loss during the Covid-19 pandemic. This does not replace or override general guidance or policies, but it is intended to support those who are working or volunteering with people with sight loss for the first time.
Sight loss is more common than you think
Some of those who are blind and partially sighted may already be known by various agencies. For example, they may be on the council’s sight loss register. However, there are also people in the community whose sight loss is not recorded. If you are unsure, just ask the person you are supporting if they have any challenges due to poor eyesight.
Delivering items to the home of someone with sight loss
- Call them before you arrive at their home to say you’re on your way. They may not be able to see your ID badge so agree a password so they know it is you when you arrive.
- When you arrive, leave the items directly outside the front door. Knock on the door and follow the two-metre social distance rule.
- Wait for the person to come to the door (it may take them a while).
- Introduce yourself and tell them the agreed password.
- Be very clear where you have left the items you are delivering. Rather than saying ‘here’ or ‘there’, say, for example ‘there are two small packages on the door mat’.
- Always use verbal responses, don’t nod or shake your head.
- Let them know what you have delivered, drawing particular attention to things such as fragile or frozen items.
- If supporting a person with sight loss, always address them directly rather than any sighted people they may be with.
- Remember to tell the person when you are leaving.
- If delivering medicines, there will already be systems in place such as asking the recipient to confirm their name. If you are asked to open packaging or talk them through dosage instructions, ask them to call the pharmacy. Make sure they have the pharmacy number.
Information in the correct format
If you are providing written information, ask the vision impaired person what format they would like this information provided in; large print, braille, audio, email. The following transcription services can help and are still operating during the pandemic:
Guide dog owners
If you are asked by a guide dog owner to take their dog for a walk, explain to them that you are unable to do this. Advise them to contact us for advice on 0345 143 0229 (Mon – Fri 9am to 5pm). Outside these hours, you will be given an out of hours number which is for urgent assistance only.
If a guide dog owner tells you they are concerned about the health or well-being of their dog, advise them to call us or you can call us yourself.
For further information about COVID-19 and sight loss, we also have a dedicated information line: 0800 781 1444, which is open on weekdays (from 9am-5pm).
This service is now fully accessible to deafblind users who use BSL.
Guidance on how to help people with sight loss to social distance
Advice on sighted guiding during Covid-19
Guidelines for those in Northern Ireland