Visual Disabilities 

Visual disabilities reduce one’s ability to see clearly. Very few people are totally blind. Some have limited vision such as tunnel vision, where a person has a loss of peripheral or side vision, or a lack of central vision, which means they cannot see straight ahead. Some can see the outline of objects while others can see the direction of light. Impaired vision can restrict a person’s ability to read signs, locate landmarks or see hazards. In some cases, it may be difficult to tell if a person has a visual disability. Others may use a guide dog or white cane. 

Here are some suggestions to help you interact with people with visual disabilities: 

  • Identify yourself when you approach the person and speak directly to them. 
  • Speak normally and clearly. 
  • Avoid referring to the disability or using phrases like “handicapped”. 
  • Unless it is an emergency, only touch the person if you have been given permission. 
  • If you offer assistance, wait until your receive permission. 
  • Offer your arm (the elbow) to guide the person and walk slowly. 
  • Service animals are working and have to pay attention at all times. Refrain from engaging with the animal. 
  • If you’re giving directions or verbal information, be precise and clear. For example, if you’re approaching a door or an obstacle, say so.  
  • Don’t just assume the individual can’t see you. 
  • When entering a room, show the individual to a chair, or guide them to a comfortable location. 
  • Identify landmarks or other details to orient the person to the environment around them. 
  • Ensure you say good-bye prior to leaving the individual. 
  • Be patient. Things may take a little longer. 


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