I was waiting for the #71 bus.
The bus arrived, but it wasn’t the normal bus.
The door was on the opposite side forcing the passengers to walk in front and around the bus and squeeze through a narrow passageway to board. A blind woman was making her way and didn’t know the bus was different. I was about to offer
”Hey, the bus is different today. The door is on the other side. Would you like me to be your sighted guide to the door?”
Before I could get the words out, a man had put his hand on her back and started pushing her along. Forcing her in front. Another hand pushed her. This time a woman. She had several hands on her on the way to the bus and before you know it she as been shoved onto the 71.
Mission accomplished. But I still cringed.
I personally know that I don’t love being touched by strangers. I also don’t love being pushed. I’m guessing she doesn’t either.
Generally, when approaching a situation in where you want to help it’s best to ask
“How can I help you?”
This gives the person an opportunity to consent or not consent to the help, and, importantly to describe how they would like to be helped. It is generally a safe bet to use sighted guide. Sighted guide looks like this:
You are in front and the person you are directing is to be one pace behind you. That way the individual can feel when you step up, turn right, left, go downhill, etc…a step before.
It’s always best to ask what kind of help, if any, the person would like!
I am going to copy and paste this really great post via Vision Australia
Guiding a person who is blind or has low vision
Use this link for the audio described version of the video guiding and communicating with a person who is blind or has low version
Play/pause – space key.
Volume – up/down arrow keys.
Skip – left/right arrow keys.
Closed captions – c key.
Video Information – i key.
Ask the person if they need assistance. If they do need assistance, contact the back of their hand with the back of yours.
They can then hold your arm just above the elbow.
When you start walking, make sure the person is half a step behind you and slightly to the side. Walk at a pace that is comfortable for both of you. Look ahead for obstacles at foot level, head height and to the side.
Tell the person you are guiding that a narrow space is ahead. Move your guiding arm towards the centre of your back to indicate that they need to walk behind you. The person should step in behind you while still holding your arm. When you have passed through the narrow space bring your arm back to its usual position by your side.
If you need to change sides with the person you are guiding it is important they do not lose contact with you. This is easiest to achieve if you remain stationary. Allow the person to hold your guiding arm with both of their hands. They can then move one hand to reach your other arm without losing contact.
When passing through a doorway, ensure the person who is blind or vision impaired is on the hinged side of the door. As you get close to the door, explain which way it opens. Open the door and walk through, allowing the person you are guiding to close it behind you using their free hand.
Steps and staircases
Stop at the first step and tell the person you are guiding whether the steps go up or down. Change sides if necessary to ensure the person you are guiding can use the handrail. Start walking when the person is ready, remaining one step ahead of them. Stop when you reach the end of the stairs and tell the person you are at the top or bottom.
Explain which way the chair is facing and where it is placed in relation to the rest of the room. Then walk up and place your guiding arm on the chair and explain which part of the chair you are touching. The person you are guiding can then move their hand down your arm to locate the chair to seat themselves.
Getting into a car
Tell the person you are guiding which way the car is facing and which door they will be getting into. Place your guiding arm onto the door handle and ask the person to move their hand down your arm.
Allow them to open the door and seat themselves. If the car is unfamiliar to them, place your arm inside on the roof so they can follow it and avoid bumping their head. Once seated, allow the person to close the car door.
When describing the person’s surroundings, try to be specific. Rather than saying, ‘there is a spare seat to your right’, it might be more helpful to say ‘the seat next to you, on your right, is occupied but the next seat along is vacant’.