Tips for Communicating Effectively
When speaking with a person with sight loss, be yourself and act naturally. You should also consider the following tips:
Identify yourself when someone with sight loss enters a room or when you are approaching the person. For example, say, “Hi, Joe. It’s Emily.”
In a group situation, introduce the other people present. If you’re in a group, try to address a person with sight loss by name so that he or she knows who you’re talking to.
Name the person when introducing yourself or when directing conversation to them in a group situation.
Always ask first to check if help is needed.
Speak naturally and clearly. Don’t speak in an exaggeratedly loud voice or talk down to a person who is blind.
Continue to use body language. This will affect the tone of your voice and give a lot of extra information to the person
Use everyday language. Don’t avoid words like “see” or “look” or talking about everyday activities such as watching TV or videos
There’s also no need to avoid using the words “blind” or “visually impaired”. Don’t tip-toe around it.
Never channel conversation through a third person. Direct questions or comments directly to the person with sight loss, not to someone they are with.
Whenever possible, try to use “people first” language, such as “people with sight loss” rather than “blind people” or “the blind
Relax and be yourself
Giving Help and Directions:
Always ask a person if he or she needs help; if the answer is no, respect his or her wishes
Avoid pointing to objects or people. Use accurate and specific language when giving directions. For example, “the door is on your left”, rather than “the door is over there”.
It’s perfectly acceptable to use descriptive language, such as making reference to colours, patterns, designs and shapes.
Try and avoid situations where there is competing noise.
People who have sight loss may wish to touch objects to get more information.
Finishing Assistance and Leaving:
When leaving a room, it’s courteous to let a blind person know that you are leaving.
Never leave a conversation with a person without saying so.
Always ensure you leave the person you are supporting in a safe place; don’t leave them in the middle of the room or near a curb edge.