Sighted Guide Techniques


We offer some useful Tips and Techniques to assist you.

Touch the visually impaired person’s arm with your elbow on the side they prefer to use

  • If you are desirous of being someone’s guide you should firstly ask if the person needs and wants your assistance. 
  • If your help is accepted, position yourself slightly in the front of the person you are guiding. Touch the visually impaired person’s arm with your elbow on the side they prefer to use. He or she can then take your arm above the elbow.


Describe the door and how it opensWhen you are approaching a door, tell the person, tell the person with vision loss – describe it and it opens. For example, you can say something like “We’re approaching a large wooden door with a doorknob. It opens to the left and toward us.” If the person you are guiding is unable to control the door (e.g if the person is elderly and the door is heavy) you should take responsibility for holding and closing it.


Going up stairsGoing down stairsTell the person with vision loss when you are both about to climb up or down stairs or curbs. Approach these perpendicularly and come to a full stop before you proceed up or down. Place the visually impaired persons hand on the railing of the staircase and allow them to go up or down.


SeatingPlace the visually impaired person’s hand on back of the chair and / or guide the person the chair so that his or her knee or shins gently contact the edge of the seat. Tell the person that they are facing the front, back or side of the chair.


VehiclesPlace one of the person’s hand on the door handle and have them locate the edge of the car roof with other hand. Then the person can seat himself or herself


Narrow PassagewaysWhen going through a narrow passageway, press your guiding arm backward toward the small of your back so the other person can move in a single   file behind you.


Changing PositionsInform the persons with visually impairment that you need to change positions. They will place their free hand on the guiding arm before releasing their original grip and using this hand to locate your other arm. They will then move behind you to the other side and assume the original grip on your other arm.


  • Don’t leave a visually impaired person standing alone in open space. Indicate a stationary object or wall, counter or seat as a point of reference
  • Never grab the person’s arm or try to direct him or her by pushing or pulling
  • Don’t use hand signals or expressions like “go that way, it’s right over there.”
  • Don’t shout when you speak, the person may not be able to see but often has fine hearing.
  • Don’t be afraid to use words like “blind” or “see’. Their eyes may not work but it is still “nice to see you.”
  • Don’t insist upon trying to help if your offer of assistance is declined.
  • Don’t grab the person’s cane to guide them.
  • Don’t attempt to position the person on a seat unless they ask for assistance.
  • Never tell the person about approaching obstacles when you are still far away as this will cause confusion.


  • Give explicit directions to a visually impaired person, such as “on your left,” “to the right of your plate,” “three blocks north.”
  • Allow the visually impaired person to seat him/herself unless he/she requires special assistance.
  • Always let the person know when there are obstacles approaching or there is a change in level (e.g. steps, chairs, carpet etc.)
  • Always let the person know whether stairs are going up or down and whether or not there are hand rails.
  • Always stop at the beginning and ending of stairs as the visually impaired person is one step behind you.
  • Always be considerate of the visually impaired person’s need to know where he or she is, who you are and who else is present.
  • Encourage others to introduce themselves so that the visually impaired person can locate them and connect their voices.
  • Always ask the person you are guiding which side they wish to be guided on.
  • Always lend support to the visually impaired person if they trip.
  • Adjust walking pace to accommodate the needs of the visually impaired person.
  • Be sure to the person when you are about to leave so that they are not left talking to themselves.