Friday, February 24, 2012

How To Give Directions To A Blind Person

Giving directions to a blind person can be tricky if you’ve never done it before. A lot of sighted people are of course very visual so it’s easy to give directions that don’t work for the visually impaired. This article is intended to teach a sighted person how to give descriptive directions that will help a blind person get to their destination safely without confusion. It’s not as difficult as it seems if you just follow a few simple tips.

When giving directions to a blind person it’s important to be as specific as possible. We can’t see landmarks; street signs or any other visual cues that would help us indicate where we are. This means giving directions needs to be like drawing a picture. When doing this activity you pay lots of attention to detail right? Well, that’s what a blind person needs when they ask how to get somewhere.

Many blind people navigate freely around their town or city every day. But even the most experienced traveler can get mixed up or lost on occasion. When they do they have to depend on people around them to figure out which way to go. It can be very scary and frustrating not knowing where you are whether you are blind or your sighted. When you’re sighted though it’s a little easier because you can retrace your steps and visually search for what it is you’re looking for.

Blind people have to be careful because one wrong turn or step can throw their sense of direction completely off track. Once this occurs it can sometimes be hard to regain control. That is when the person might solicit assistance from someone passing by, or from someone in a near by shop.

If you are ever asked for help don’t panic. Just remember what I said about drawing the picture. Use descriptive words to express what you are trying to say.I can’t stress enough the importance of being specific.

Use phrases like, “turn right,” or “straight ahead three blocks.” It’s not necessary to talk to them like they are three but it is necessary to convey the directions in a manner they can understand them. Try and imagine getting somewhere with your eyes closed. What type of information would help you get to where you needed to go?

Never use words like, “it’s on main street,” “There’s a big sign you can’t miss it”. The reason the first example isn’t a good one is because the person might not have a clue where Main Street is. Never assume the blind person you are helping is a seasoned traveler. It’s okay to say something is on Main Street but add some more detail with it. For example, “If you go straight ahead four blocks that will bring you to Main Street. Turn right there and it will be the third driveway on your left.” The reason the second example is no good is somewhat obvious. The person you are helping is blind silly. They can’t see the big sign unless it’s in the front of the store and they run into it. Even then, they don’t know for sure that’s the sign they were supposed to be looking for.

When you’re done explaining the directions try to make sure they understand what you said. Be sure to do so in a polite way though. It could be easy to misconstrue this has talking down to the person. If you have time and they still seem confused, don’t be afraid to ask if they would like you to show them. They might of course say no but it wouldn’t hurt to ask. The offer might be appreciated and welcome. It’s possible they wanted to ask you to show them but felt awkward. If they do accept your offer be sure to ask them what type of help they need if any while walking. Some might just want to walk along side you unassisted. Others might prefer to use something called sighted guide. This means that they hold your arm. No two blind people are alike though so checking with them on their personal preference is a must.

If you follow these few steps you shouldn’t have any problems giving a blind person directions. It’s not really that different from giving directions to a sighted person. There’s just more specific detail needed to properly convey your instructions. If you have any other questions about giving directions feel free to leave them in the comment section of this post. If you would rather you can also use the contact me link to send me a private message.

If you liked this post please share it with your friends. For further information you can also check out the You Tube channel for this site. There you will find a video called How To Talk To A Blind Person. There will be more videos to come on the topic of relating to a blind person. There’s a link that will take you directly to the You Tube channel on this page.


  1. Ok so I totally hate it when people go look over there. Over where I ask and they say THERE as they point. ok I am blind not deaf first and and pointing to a blind person doesn't tell me anything. lol

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  2. lol I totally agree Fawn. My favorite is when we get a... "when you see that big sign you're there... you can't miss it". The only way I'm not going to miss it is if I run into it sprawlling on my face. Which by the way, has The sighted don't give this type of directions on purpose. It's just how they're used to doing things. They mean well.

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