When You Meet a Person Who is Blind

Points to Remember

  • The term "blind" does not always refer to total blindness. A person is "legally blind" if best corrected vision is 20/200 or less in the better eye or if the visual field is restricted to 20 degrees or less. Legally blind people can have varied types of vision loss and different abilities to use their remaining sight.
  • When loss of vision occurs, one does not gain another sense. The remaining four senses are strengthened out of necessity.
  • Colors and denominations of bills are not determined through touch. Blind people have various ways of keeping track of their money and matching their clothes. For example, bills may be folded differently for each denomination. Braille color tags, buttons or other markings can be sewn on clothes to signify color. Being well organized and using one's memory are important assets that help a blind person function independently.
  • When walking with a blind person, offer your arm.
  • Don't push a blind person through a door, precede through the door ahead of the individual.
  • Don't hesitate to offer assistance to a blind person, but do not be offended if your help is refused.
  • Speak in a normal tone of voice when talking with blind people. Talk directly to them and not to the person accompanying them. If possible, call them by name, and if not, touch them lightly on the arm or shoulder to indicate you are referring to them.
  • When showing a blind person to a chair, place his or hand hand on the back of the chair.
  • When assisting a blind person, never grab their cane or give directions to their dog guides.
  • Do not touch, feed or speak to a dog guide. Dog guides are working animals and their undivided attention and loyalty for their master is essential to maintain the safety and quality of their work.