When a Guide Dog is Working… If you have ever wondered about the rules for interacting with a working guide dog, they are quite simple. When a guide dog is in harness and therefore working, do not pet them, feed them, talk to them or distract them in any way. The basic rule is that when a guide dog is working, you must leave them alone. When they are on leash or are free and with permission of their human counterpart, then you can tell them what great and wonderful animals they truly are.
When You Meet a Visually Impaired Individual… When you encounter a blind or visually impaired individual in a given situation, introduce yourself by name as you would normally. If a blind individual enters a room, immediately greet them and let them know you are in the room by saying your name such as “Hi Dennis, it’s Deborah”.
When You Are Describing a Person, Place, or Object… When you are describing someone or something, be precise and thorough. Include all the details you possibly can and be very visually descriptive by stating colors, patterns, designs and shapes.
When a Visually Impaired Individual Accepts Your Offer of Help… Offer to be a guide by asking if they would like assistance and if so, present them with your upper arm so the blind or visually impaired individual can take it just above the elbow. If they are with their guide dog, the dog will be on their left side and you will be guiding on the right side of the individual.
When you are guiding a blind individual, be sure to walk ahead of them as you move forward (similar to what a dog does) and be descriptive about what they will encounter along the walking path such as mentioning that a curb is a step or two steps ahead or that there’s a group of people stopped on the sidewalk ahead that you will be walking around.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid. Speak up and introduce yourself—building bridges connects us all.