How to Help a Blind Person Find Their Way

by teddletonmr

Learning to be a sighted guide and helping blind people find their way requires understanding a few important truths.

Have you ever wondered about the life and struggles of a blind person? Most of us have especially when we see a visually challenged person maneuvering around with the aid of a dog or cane. Sad but true, many people simply do not understand what it means when they see a person using the white with red tip blind persons cane. After all, visually impaired people refusing to give up on life have dedicated much time and effort to learn effective cane techniques.

Understandably, many folks find it hard to understand let alone accept this ability. How is all that possible? Follow along and join in on the chat, as we discuss how a blind person is able to tap their way through their sight impaired world.

Blind Truth vs Myth

Commonly held belief, myth, blind people have highly developed senses of hearing, smell and touch due to blindness.

blind person finding crosswalk The five senses are extremely useful skills that make getting around their home’s and neighborhood, doable. When need be we pay careful attention to these senses as they become more valuable tools.

Think about it, without having the use of normal eyesight crossing busy streets without getting hit by a moving vehicle would be highly likely without using the other senses.

It’s challenging to walk up and down a flight of stairs without stumbling or falling. Amazingly blind people actually find their way around not only familiar places, unfamiliar as well seemingly effortlessly.


How the Visually Impaired Manage

How do people with low vision do that?

Super human hearing? Not really, visually impaired people simply learn to listen to the sounds going on around them and hear intently, subtle sounds help create a vision in their mind’s eye. They simply learn to pay more attention to the everyday noise surrounding them. This special attention to details develops the awareness of where sounds originate from. Paying attention to this helps those suffering vision loss of any degree to find their way around better.

Handheld talking GPS

Humanware helps Visually Impaired

Easy to use GPS

Visually impaired people find it easy to find their way around Unfamiliar places
Visually impaired woman using a GPS
Visually impaired woman using a GPS

Blind People and The Other 4 Senses

Blind people develop acute sense of smell?

Jubowl of fresh popcorn st like the tantalizing smells of fresh brewed coffee, and bacon frying awakens many people up on Sunday morning, the visually impaired grow more aware of these physical cues. They become more attentive as to the direction from which the aroma originates. This helps them find their way. You know where your favorite restaurant of coffee shop is by seeing. The blind or visually impaired person finds it by smelling it. When was the last time a pleasing scent pulled you into a place of business?  Other distinctive smells alert us to many things going on around us all the time. Take for instance, which draws your attention to fresh popped pop-corn first? The tantalizing smell, sounds of popcorn popping from somewhere out of sight, or seeing the salty, buttery crunchy goodness bagged and ready to eat before your eyes?  

The Blind Sense of Touch

Highly developed sense of touch?

Learning to trust tactile information we gather from not only our finger tips, smooth, ruff textures and hot and cold temperatures. Sensing subtle breezes and temperature changes on our skin informs us with many bits of extremely useful information.

leader dog

The best way to help a Blind Person

Making it easy for the blind to help themselves is the best place to start.

The first thing folks wishing to lend a helping hand will need to keep in mind. Helping blind people learn to use and arguably more important, learning to rely on their other senses will not always be the easiest thing to accomplish.

Especially when it involves senior citizens set in their ways. Nurture their drive and desire to never give up on learning new skills. Debunk that old wives tail having to do with old dogs cannot learn new tricks, and rejoice in their accomplishments, just as you would, when a baby learns to take its first step.    

Please feel free to ask any question, or simply share your comments in the chat section below.

Make it a great day, Mike


Folding Blind and Visually Impaired Person Cane

This folding cane is easy to handel when going out, riding in a car or being seated at a restaurant or theater
Updated: 10/10/2012, teddletonmr
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How to Help a Blind Person Find Their Way Chat

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teddletonmr on 11/06/2012

@BrendaReeves, thanks for sharing your comment. Give your mom my best, by the way, earlier this year while visiting the Hines Blind Rehab center I meet a man ninty-four years young.
A WWII vet, he had plenty of life lessons to share, and doesn't plan on slowing down anytime soon.
enjoy each and every day like its your last, you never know what tomorrow will bring.
Make it a great day, Mike :)

BrendaReeves on 11/06/2012

Very helpful article. My mother has macular degeneration and is blind in one eye and limited in the other eye. I won't be turning her loose on the street at 90 years old, but I look forward to reading your other articles on the subject. I'm sure I can pull away some useful tips.

teddletonmr on 10/12/2012

@katiem2, your willingness to understand the trials and tribulations of the visually impaired and legally blind is truly uplifting. When you have the time, and want to get a better understanding of how blind people learn to use the information provided through the other senses. Blindfold yourself before getting dressed in the morning and see what you are missing.
I promise, it will be fun and entertaining for all, just avoid the stairs, that first one will be a doosey. :)
Best wishes, Mike

katiem2 on 10/12/2012

I'm enjoying learning what the average person, like myself, doesn't understand about the day to day lives and struggles of the visually impaired and blind. Now I feel comfortable addressing such people instead of avoiding them or trying not to stare. Very good public service information. Thanks :)K

teddletonmr on 10/11/2012

@2uesday you were not foolish, quite the contrary. Many folks pay little to no attention to the way blind and visually impaired people navigate obstacles in their surroundings. Thanks for sharing your caring observations, there are many techniques folks dealing with vision problems employ every day that helps them overcome many challenges.
Your willingness to engage in the discussion, I believe will help many folks look at their surroundings just a bit differently. Pun intended.
Be well, Mike :)

teddletonmr on 10/11/2012

2uesday I am familiar with several of the different tips for the red tipped blind person’s cane. The thing we need to keep in mind. With one of the larger tips or rollers attached to the tip of the cane. The blind person cane becomes less sensitive to tactile clues, cracks in the sidewalk etc.
For instance, have you noticed the area located where the sidewalk meets a busy intersection, or in many cases around government buildings, the entrance to a parking lot, brightly colored with a bunch of raised dots providing both visual clue for sighted people, and a tactile clue for the visually impaired?
Thanks for drawing attention to the many different ways people use their blind cane to find their way around.
Make it a great day, Mike :)

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