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Tips for First Responders - Delaware

People with Blindness or Visual Impairments

  • There is a difference between visual impairment and blindness. Some people who are “legally blind” have some sight, while others are totally blind.
  • Announce your presence, speak out, and then enter the area.
  • Speak naturally and directly to the individual.
  • Do not shout.
  • Don’t be afraid to use words like “see,” “look,’ or “blind.”
  • State the nature of the emergency and offer them your arm. As you walk, advise them of any obstacles.
  • Offer assistance but let the person explain what help is needed.
  • Do not grab or attempt to guide them without first asking them.
  • Let the person grasp your arm or shoulder lightly for guidance.
  • They may choose to walk slightly behind you to gauge your body’s reactions to obstacles.
  • Be sure to mention stairs, doorways, narrow passages, ramps, etc.
  • When guiding someone to a seat, place the person’s hand on the back of the chair.
  • If leading several individuals with visual impairments, ask them to guide the person behind them.
  • Remember that you’ll need to communicate any written information orally.
  • When you have reached safety, orient the person to the location and ask if any further assistance is needed.
  • If the person has a service animal, don’t pet it unless the person says it is ok to do so. Service animals must be evacuated with the person.

    Refer to the People with Service Animals tip sheet.

Additional Resources

Delaware Division for the Visually Impaired (DVI)

1-302-255-9800 (New Castle)

1-302-424-7240 (Kent, Sussex)

Delaware Association for the Blind

1-888-777-3925 (Toll-Free)



University of DelawareCenter for Disabilities Studies