Puppy Resources

Module 3 - Guide Dogs in the community

3.4 Lesson plan and activity sheet

Sighted Guiding

Learn how to guide a blind or partially sighted person.

Sighted Guiding

Sometimes a friend or someone in your family, who has sight loss, may want help getting around even if they have a guide dog or use a cane. This guide explains how you could safely guide someone who has sight loss from one place to another.

Girl offering help to a blind boy

Offering Help

If you think someone with a sight loss needs help, politely introduce yourself. Ask them where they would like to go and offer them your arm. This is called your ‘guiding arm’. Offer your arm by gently placing the back of your hand against their arm. They can then find your elbow with their hand.

Cartoon Guide Dog in a circle

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. Leave them next to a chair, table or wall so they have something to touch.

Girl guiding a blind boy

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 ask the person you are guiding if they are ready before you set off. Always remember to walk at a steady pace, and never run when guiding someone.

Cartoon Guide Dog in a circle

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

Girl guiding a blind boy though a narrow gap

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. This is called walking through a ‘narrow space’. Always tell the person you are guiding you are coming up to a narrow space.

Bring your ‘guiding arm’ in behind your back. Ask them to step behind you and put their free hand on your shoulder. They will then be able to follow you safely as you walk along.

Girl guiding blind boy into a seat

Finding a Seat

Try and describe the chair to the person you are guiding. Is it big or small? Is it hard or soft? Does it have arms, and a back? What is it called?

Cartoon Guide Dog in a circle

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.

Changing sides with your guide

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 sill before you ask the person to change sides. Place your hands on your hips, and pretend to be a chicken. Your bent elbows which should be behind you are your wings. Ask the person you are guiding to step across behind you and find your free elbow.

Girl guiding blind boy through a door

Doorways

If you where 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 tell the person you are guiding if 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 has the door hinges. You may have to ask them the 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.

Cartoon Guide Dog in a circle

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

Girl guiding blind boy up some stairs

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.

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.

Girl guiding blind boy down some stairs

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.

Hints and tips

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"!

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

Never push or pull the person you’re guiding.

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

A guide dog owner will indicate the need for assistance by letting the harness-handle lie on the dog’s back.

Never distract a guide dog, as this might put its owner in danger. And never take the lead or harness, or tell the dog what to do – only the owner should control it.

Never feed a guide dog – they have a perfectly balanced diet and should only be fed by their owners.