Yesterday a helpful member of the public asked if I would like a seat on the tube. I thanked him and said yes at which point he pushed me into a seat! Admittedly he didn’t do this particularly hard, however it was, to put it mildly somewhat ofputting! This experience and others of a similar nature made me think that it would be useful to place something on my blog regarding how best to assist a visually impaired person. I’m always grateful for offers of assistance irrespective of whether or not I require it as, indeed are most other visually impaired people. Consequently please never be afraid to ask (if the individual does not need help they will tell you, politely that they are OK). It is always best to ask, if you are not sure rather than leave a blind person (who may be lost or require other assistance) in limbo.
When guiding a visually impaired person always let him/her take your arm. There is nothing more ofputting, as a blind person to find yourself propelled forward by a well intentioned member of the public rather than (as should be the case) being able to take their arm and follow comfortably.
When approaching steps always tell a visually impaired person whether the stairs are ascending or descending (I’ve lost count of the number of times when I’ve been warned of stairs only to have to ask “are they up or down?”).
There is a good piece, on the BBC’s website which provides more information on how to guide a visually impaired individual. I particularly like the suggestion that, after having helped a blind person to sit down you buy them a pint of beer and place it before them. Indeed this should, in my view be obligatory (buying a pint of beer I mean)! Seriously I, as a visually impaired person really do appreciate offers of assistance so, please never be afraid to ask.
For the BBC article please visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A42694806.