COVID-19 guidance: 6 ways health settings can support blind and partially sighted people

How to support visually impaired people whilst socially distancing in a hospital or GP surgery

Check out these six handy tips developed by our blind and partially sighted Sight Loss Council members.

  1. Be aware

Not all blind and partially sighted people “look blind” (wear dark glasses, use a cane or a guide dog), so it may not always be obvious! They may be wearing a Sunflower badge or a lanyard so they can be easily recognised as someone requiring assistance. People with visual impairment may need more verbal information than others, so please be clear and accurate when communicating.

  1. Guiding

If someone usually requires ‘traditional’ guiding in public areas, and there is no safe alternative, they will need to be guided.  Single use face masks and hand-sanitizers should be made available. If the patient is accompanied, ask if the person with them is their usual means of support and advise them of hygiene procedures.

There is more information about sighted guiding on the RNIB website:

  1. Social distancing

Many blind and partially sighted patients will find it difficult to maintain social distancing. So, keep this in mind when you’re on duty.

  1. Introduce yourself

If you think that someone needs help, introduce yourself as patients may not be able to see your uniform – a simple: “Hi I’m Steve, I work at the hospital, is there anything I can do to help today?” can go a long way.

  1. Hygiene

To keep everyone safe, please highlight to your blind and partially sighted patients where they can sterilise their hands, don’t assume everyone knows where it is!

  1. Changes to the environment

Make sure your blind and partially sighted patients are aware of changes within the hospital-environments such as: floor indicators, screens and temporary barriers. Ensure any temporary signage is at least size 48-point font – hand-written notes are often difficult to read, so where you can, verbalize these changes to the patient.

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Publication date: 15 October 2020

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