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Sighted Guides

Basic Sighted Guide / Narrow Passageways / Reversing Directions / Stairways /
Transferring Sides / Doorways / Seating / Common Courtesies

Basic Sighted Guide

Objective: To safely and efficiently travel with another person as a guide in a variety of environments.

Procedures:

  1. With the back of their hand the guide contacts the student's arm
  2. The student moves their hand up the guide's arm into position just above the elbow.
  3. The student's thumb is positioned just above the elbow on the lateral side of the guide's arm with the remaining four fingers on the medial side in a grip that is secure, yet comfortable for the guide.
  4. The student's upper arm is positioned parallel and close to the side of their body.
  5. The student's upper and lower arm form an angle of approximately 90° with the forearm pointing forward.
  6. The shoulder of the student's grip arm is directly behind the shoulder of the guide's gripped arm.
  7. The student remains approximately one half step behind the guide.
  8. The guide outwardly rotates their arm, simultaneously turning toward the student, and the student releases their grip.

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Narrow Passageways

Objective: To allow passage through a narrow opening that cannot be negotiated in the normal sighted guide procedure.

Procedures:

  1. The guide moves their arm behind and toward the small of their back.
  2. The student responds by extending their arm and moving directly behind the guide.
  3. After traversing the narrow passageway, the guide returns their arm to a normal position.

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Reversing Directions

Objective: To enable the student and guide to execute a 180° turn in a limited amount of space.

Procedures:

  1. The guide verbally indicates to the student to face the opposite direction.
  2. The student releases their grip.
  3. The guide and student turn toward each other while executing two 90° turns.
  4. The guide re-establishes contact and the student resumes the proper position and grip.

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Stairways

Objective: To enable the student and guide to safely and efficiently negotiate stairways.

Procedures:

  1. The guide approaches the edge of the steps perpendicularly.
  2. The guide pauses at the edge of the first step.
  3. The student aligns themselves evenly beside the guide.
  4. The guide takes the first step.
  5. The student follows at the guide's pace, remaining one step behind.
  6. The guide pauses after completing the stairs. The guide and student resume a normal pace.

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Transferring Sides

Objective: To enable the student to switch sides out of personal preference, for social reasons, or for comfort and ease in negotiating environmental situations.

Procedure:

  1. The guide furnishes a verbal indication to transfer sides.
  2. With their free hand, the student grips the guide's arm just above the grip hand.
  3. The student extends their arms.
  4. Student releases the original grip hand. The back of the original grip hand is then trailed across the guide's back to the guide's opposite arm, and the student grips the guide's opposite arm.
  5. The student's grip on the side from which they are transferring is released and trailed to the opposite arm. The proper grip and position are assumed on the new side. The student should not release their outside hand before securing grasp with the other hand to avoid losing contact. At this point the student must be alert for further cues from the guide.

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Doorways

Objective: To enable the student to safely and efficiently negotiate a doorway, providing assistance to the guide.

Procedures:

  1. When the guide pulls or pushes the door, the student assumes a modified hand and forearm by extending their arm just above their waist at an obtuse angle horizontally across the front of the body. The palm rotated outward, keeping the hand aligned with the forearm and the fingers relaxed and together.
  2. If they fail to contact the door in approximately one step for pull doors and one and one-half steps for push doors, the student alternates the grip hand with the free hand and moves behind the guide. The student then assumes the modified hand and forearm with the free hand.
  3. The guide positions the student to the door.
  4. The student contacts the door and pushes it further open.
  5. The student releases the door, the guide pauses to allow the student to close the door.
  6. The student resumes the proper position and grip.

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Seating

Objective: To enable the student to locate and examine seat and independently seat themselves.

Procedures:

  1. The guide brings the student within close proximity of a seat.
  2. The student releases their grip on the guide.
  3. The guide verbalizes the seat's position relative to the student. Another method is to position the student's hand on the backrest of the chair. In this manner the student is able to quickly determine their orientation to the chair.
  4. The student moves their foot in the direction of the seat until contact with the seat is made.
  5. The student faces the seat, assuming a modified hand and forearm vertically or horizontally in front of their face and forehead.
  6. The student bends at the waist and, with their free arm, contacts the seat at the point where it contacts their leg.
  7. With the backs of the fingers, the student lightly clears the area on which they will sit by using: a) horizontal and vertical,  b) circular movement.
  8. With the back of their legs, the student squares off against the front of the seat and is seated.
  9. To exit, the guide re-establishes contact with the student.
  10. Simultaneously with rising, the student trails their hand up the guide's arm to the appropriate grip position and assumes the proper grip and position.

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Common Courtesies

In addition to these instructional concerns, there are also a number of basic courtesies that should be maintained by the guide to ensure the development of safety and trust with the traveler. First, when entering a room or area occupied by an individual who is blind, it is appropriate for the guide to speak, to alert that person to their presence, and to establish their identity. Second, it is inappropriate to leave the traveler standing in the middle of a hallway, room or other open space. The guide should bring the traveler into contact with an object, even if the traveler is only being left momentarily. Finally, the guide should not walk away from the traveler without indicating their intent to do so. The person who is blind may be left in the embarrassing position of carrying on a conversation with themselves.

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