5 ways to help blind commuters

Courtney navigating using Wayfindr through Euston Station

How many times have you helped out a blind commuter?

Never? Don’t worry, it’s not that unusual, most people will never meet a blind person, never mind a working one. It’s still a shocking fact that 90% of those who lose their sight in youth won’t work for more than 6 months in their lives. Though that doesn’t mean blind young commuters don’t exist. With help from RSBC, blind young people are beating the odds every day.

I’m RSBC’s online communities assistant, and I commute every day to work on the train and the London Underground. There are still times however when blind young people like me need help from passers by when we’re trying to get to work. For instance when crossing busy roads or to get around road works on the street.

But you wouldn’t believe the number of people I’ve asked for help who’ve said they were going to offer to assist me, but felt they’d offend me by asking.

So to help those who want to help blind young commuters like me, I’ve put together my top 5 tips to help blind commuters:

  1. Don’t be afraid to approach someone and ask them if they need help. If they politely decline, go with it. If a blind person knows their route it’s sometimes easier to stick to the plan.
  2. To guide someone who is blind let them hold your arm just above the elbow and then walk ahead of them. This way a blind person can feel if you are going up or down steps.
  3. Don’t grab and drag. So many people have simply come up to me without a word, grabbed me and tried to drag me forward. I’m no mind reader (unfortunately) so saying hello and asking if I need your help is always the best policy.
  4. Always announce if you’re approaching stairs, roads or turnings. I find this helps me to keep track of where we are and forewarned of any up-coming hazards.
  5. Remember what I said earlier about not worrying about offending? Be natural and relaxed. You’re doing someone a great favour so it’s great to show if you’re enjoying offering the help.

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