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Communication Tips

When communicating, be mindful of your volume. It’s common for people to elevate their voices when talking with people who are not exactly like them.

  • If you have questions for someone who is visually impaired and they are with a companion, be sure to address your questions directly to that person and not the companion
  • When dining out, it might be helpful to offer to read the menu, including prices  
  • When the meal arrives, describe the location of the food
  • It’s most helpful to do this using a clock face as a template for example: “The potatoes are at 4:00, and the meat is at 8:00”
  • It’s important to verbalize your actions to clarify activities and avoid accidents for example: “I’m taking your outgoing mail,” or “I’m reaching across the table”
  • You don’t have to avoid using words like “look” or “see” most people who are blind or visually impaired use these words
  • The senses of hearing, touch or smell do not improve when someone loses their vision those senses are simply relied on more by people with vision loss
  • When in doubt, simply ask: "How can I help?"

Navigation Tips

  • When you’re walking with someone who is visually impaired, don’t grab or pull it’s more helpful to offer your arm
  • When entering a room, announce your arrival, and if appropriate, introduce other people who are in the room
  • Any kind of door left partially open can be a hazard, including rooms, cabinets and car doors the rule of thumb is to leave doors either all the way open – or all the way closed
  • Cabinets and drawers should be closed after use
  • It is also helpful to push chairs in when leaving a table or desk

Courtesy Tips

  • When giving directions, be specific
  • Use words like “left” or “right” or “north” or “south”
  • Pointing to a specific location, or saying “it's over there” is usually not helpful
  • Only people who are blind or visually impaired are permitted to carry a white cane
  • In all 50 states, the law requires drivers to yield the right-of-way when they see a person walking with a white cane
  • Use People First Language when communicating for example: “Jane is a woman who is blind,” instead of “She is a blind woman”. Using People First Language doesn't allow the disability to define the person.
  • When exchanging money, be specific about each bill you hand someone who is blind or visually impaired so they can identify it later