How to Guide a Person
Guiding techniques enable people who have impaired vision to move through the environment safely and confidently with the assistance of a guide.
A good guide continually monitors the anxiety level of the person who has impaired vision, planning six paces ahead, looking for potential hazards, and thinking "two people wide".
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT provides free training in guiding techniques to clients, their friends and families. This training involves:
The guide touches the back of the person's hand, as a signal for them to take the guide's arm.
The guide holds their arm relaxed at their side. The guided person's arm is also relaxed and held close to their side. The person stands at the guide's side, a half to one pace behind.
The person grips the guide's arm just above the elbow, firm enough to maintain contact without causing discomfort.
The need to change sides is given verbally. It's safest to stop walking before changing sides. The person places their free hand on the guide's back and then releases the original grip. The person then trails across the back until reaching the guide's arm on the other side. The guide checks to ensure the person has taken the correct grip and position before continuing.
Stairs and kerbs
The guide always approaches the stairs or kerb squarely, never at an angle, and stops at the edge. If using stairs, the guide should indicate whether they're going up or down, and should suggest changing sides to use the handrail if necessary. The person may wish to find the edge of the first stair with their toe. The guide steps down (or up) one stair and both people proceed in rhythm. The guide indicates that they've reached the end by stopping, along with verbal indication if necessary.
The guide initiates the process of moving through a narrow space by shifting the arm being held across the small of their back. The person responds by straightening their (grip) arm and stepping behind the guide so they're in single file. After passing through the narrow space, the guide and person resume the basic position.
The person should be on the same side as the door hinges. The guide verbally indicates that they're approaching a door and whether it opens towards or away from them. When the guide pauses to take hold of the door handle, the person places their free hand behind the guide's back. The person then moves their free hand out to make contact with and open the door. When they're through the door, the person closes it.