Assistance to People with Sight Loss During COVID-19 Pandemic
Guide Dogs have put together some suggestions about basic communication principles to consider when interacting with people with sight loss. The does not replace or override general guidance or policies in relation to supporting people during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is intended to support those who are working or volunteering with blind and partially sighted people for the first time.
Sight loss is more common than you think
Some blind and partially sighted people will already be known by various agencies. For example, they may be on the council’s sight loss register. However, there are also people in the community whose sight loss is not recorded. Some older people have a level of impaired vision, but they may not consider or describe themselves as “vision impaired”. If you are unsure, just ask the person you are supporting if they have any challenges due to poor eyesight.
Delivering Items to the Home of Someone with Sight Loss
Call them before you arrive at their home to say you’re on your way. They may not be able to see your ID badge so agree a password so they know it is you when you arrive
When you arrive, leave the items directly outside the front door. Knock on the door and follow the two-metre social distance rule
Wait for the person to come to the door (it may take them a while)
Introduce yourself and tell them the agreed password
Be very clear where you have left the items you are delivering. Rather than saying ‘here’ or ‘there’ say, for example ‘there are two small packages on the door mat’
Always use verbal responses, don’t nod or shake your head
Let them know what you have delivered drawing particular attention to things such as fragile or frozen items.
If supporting a person with sight loss, always address them directly rather than any sighted people they may be with
Remember to tell the person when you are leaving
If delivering medicines, there will already be systems in place such as asking the recipient to confirm their name. If the vision impaired person asks you to open packaging or talk them through dosage instructions, ask them to call the pharmacy. Make sure they have the pharmacy number.
Information in the correct format
If you are providing written information, ask the vision impaired person what format they would like this information provided in; large print, braille, audio, email. The following transcription services can help and are still operating during the pandemic: www.ecomdda.com and www.a2i.co.uk
Other transcription companies are available and many of these are listed at www.ukaaf.org/members/
Guide Dog Owners
If you are asked by a guide dog owner to take their dog for a walk, explain to them that you are unable to do this. Advise them to contact Guide Dogs for advice: 0345 143 0229 (Mon – Fri 9am to 5pm) Outside these hours, you will be given an out of hours number which is for urgent assistance only.
If a guide dog owner tells you they are concerned about the health or well-being of their dog, advise them to call Guide Dogs:0345 143 0229 or you can call us yourself.
Further information about COVID-19 and sight loss is available at
Guide Dogs’ COVID-19 information line (0800 781 1444) is open on weekdays (from 9am-5pm)
Accessible Apps to Help People with Sight Loss
Information about some very helpful Apps and other information https://www.sightadvicefaq.org.uk/independent-living/technology
Updated 28 April 2020