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Guiding the Deaf-Blind

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					Guiding the Deaf-Blind

4 Cardinal Rules About Guiding:

Pay Attention  Take Your Time  Be Consistent  When in Doubt…Communicate
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Pay Attention
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Be aware of your surroundings:  Slow down for uneven terrain  Watch overhead objects especially from sides; place the DB’s hand on the object  Watch his side and make sure there is plenty of room to clear any obstacles Avoid distractions or rushing by doing one thing at a time  Don’t deal with traffic and talk at the same time  Pay attention to the DB person i.e., is the sun in his eyes or entering a dark hallway-time to adjust to changes in light.

Take Your Time
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Slow down and don’t multi-task:  Deaf blind time is slower  Cannot look and talk, requires time to find a coat, see if it belongs to him/her, find the sleeves and get them on, go over to a person to say goodbye etc.  Stop at curbs and stairs etc. Don’t absorb pressure from Hearing people:  Scowls, eyes rolling, look and sound exasperated, sighs or even comments may make you feel uncomfortable.  Don’t let them pressure you or control you!

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Be consistent with your pace, follow the same routine with stairs and curbs, pause, stand at same distance from the step then pause. Approach the doors the same way, guide the DB person’s hand to objects the same way, etc. Make your movements clear. All these will save mistakes and accidents. Save the DB person’s energy. He knows he can relax, and be confident that he knows what is going on. Predict the route and don’t always take the shorter way. THINK OF SAFETY AND COMFORT!

Be Consistent

When in Doubt…Communicate
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Times when you are unsure what to do i.e, First time with a DB with a guide dog; guiding on a circular staircase, ride in a canoe with a DB person etc. When unsure how to proceed, communicate. Discuss how to handle the situation and what signals to use. Think ahead i.e., riding a tandem bike, how will you signal you want to stop?

Empowerment Tips
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Ask the Deaf-Blind person if they want to be guided before actually providing sighted guide Ask them where they want to go, DON’T assume! Offer choices whenever possible. Ex: whether he wants to use the stairs, the elevator or escalator. Avoid pushing or pulling while providing sighted guide assistance. Adopt a patient attitude as everything requires more time. Be flexible and accommodate to the individual DB person’s needs while being guided.

The Basics
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When walking, let the Deaf Blind person take your arm.
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Never push him ahead of you He will walk slightly behind you. Your natural body movements will be enough to let him know you are turning, stopping or continuing straight. DB person may use one or more of the following:  A “C” handshape to grip the guide’s arm just above the elbow, one hand on the guide’s shoulder, two hands on the guide’s shoulders, communication in sign language while being guided.

Orientation
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Guide by being one step in front of the DB person. Keep arms close to body. Walk at relaxed pace but be attentive to the pace of the DB person Scan the environment and remember you are two people wide. Look above, below and side to side to see things like tree limbs, curb cuts, or file drawers left open.

Changes in Terrain
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Slow down for changes in terrain such as ramps, pavement to gravel, or vice versa, tile to carpet, or sidewalk to dirt. Stop then proceed for more significant changes such as steps, curbs, or doorways. Narrow spaces: to cue the DB person, move your elbow behind you. Show the DB person the width of the space using “under their hand” technique.

Stairs and Curbs
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Stairs: Before going up or down, pause then take the first step, pause again slightly then proceed. The DB person will know from your body movements.
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Approach the stairs so DB person’s outside hand is near railing.

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Curbs: Approach, pause, take the step, pause again slightly then proceed.

Stops
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Often you will have to stop or pause; at steps, curbs, waiting for a light, waiting for an elevator, avoiding pedestrians, waiting in line. If it is not immediately obvious why you are pausing, especially if the DB person looks restless, puzzled or curious, it is nice to let him know the reason for the pause.

Guiding a Person with a Guide Dog
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Guide stands on opposite side of the DB person from the guide dog. Remember you are now three beings wide Don’t pet the dog. It is a working dog.

“Under Their Hand” Technique
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Railing: Gently put your hand under their free hand and place your hand on the railing. When the DB person feels the railing, remove your hand. Chairs: when guiding to a chair, guide to side. Use “under their hand” technique to show DB person chair back and seat and table and inform DB person of any objects on table.

“Under Their Hand” Technique (cont’d)
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Cars: when guiding to a car, use “under their hand” technique to show both the top of car and car seat or door handle if car door is closed. Doors: easier to guide if same side as door hinge, open door with your guiding hand, the DB person will take the door with their free hand.
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If doors open towards you, pull back then move DB person behind you.

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Escalators: Use “under the hand” technique to show the moving rail.

Balance
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Deaf Blind people often have poor balance. It’s helpful to offer a steady hand, not just for DB person to lean on, but as an aid to orientation. Especially when walking on rocky terrain, going up or down the stairs or getting up out of a chair. Remember to wear good walking shoes.

Changes in Light
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People with poor vision often take longer to adjust to changes in light. When entering from outside, pause or slow down until their eyes have a chance to adjust. Do the same when you walk outside on a bright sunny day.

Restrooms
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If guiding a person of the opposite sex, guide to the restroom door and wait outside.
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Generally Restrooms are pretty standard.

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If you are with someone of the same sex, follow the same procedure except you can inform if one of the stalls is out of order or paper towels are in a strange place.

Ask for Help
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Its okay to ask for help:
For example checking on a person in the restroom or  Ask for assistance in moving chairs or objects out of the way, or ask a third person to help with carrying things etc.
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Dealing with Objects
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Day packs are helpful to free your hands. Always guide the DB person’s hand to an object rather than put her hand to it. Indicate you want to hand a DB person something by touching the DB’s hand until he puts his hand on top of yours “listening position” If handing a cup of coffee or food, hold it then touch him with your other hand to inform him what you have.

Touching Objects
When touching things in public, inform the DB person that others are close by  Touching should be motivated:  Basically for information or pleasure Identify the object first: tell him what it is and why you think it might be interesting, pleasurable to touch.
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Partially Sighted DB Persons
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Many partially sighted DB persons do prefer to have guides especially at night Nice to pause and point out interesting things in the environment Even if partially sighted DB sees object, he will get more information if he can touch it also. Think of partially sighted DB person’s vision as useful but totally unreliable. Moving objects are especially hard for partially sighted DB persons to find visually.

Culture
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When planning to meet a DB person, agree on a specific time and be prompt. It is critical to maintain trust and integrity with the community. Consider ease and travel access for deciding a meeting location. Decide for yourself ahead of time, how responsible you want to be, how many hours you are willing to be on duty and be clear about that ahead of time. Ask for additional support or just time off to rest.

Culture 2
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Being a companion as well as guide:
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Travel together, share meals, conversation, free time ex:  Accompanying a DB to a conference (only DB person there)  Going on a vacation/trip with a DB person and/or  Serving as an SSP at a party or a Hearing family gathering Who will pay for transportation (gas, parking, tickets) and any other expenses. Will you be expected to pay for your own meals and if so will you have input as to where you eat? Tipping: talk about it.

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Talk about money:
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Culture 3
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Accompanying a DB to a community event or party, be clear about your plan:
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Are you simply giving him a ride or accompany him throughout the evening or something in between? If you accompany a DB person and he is talking with someone, keep sufficiently close by so by physical contact he knows you are there so he can get your attention if he needs it. If you leave briefly, let the DB person know where you are going ex: to the restroom, to talk with someone, outside for a smoke) so he will have a sense of where you are and how long you will be gone.

Culture 4
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Make sure the DB person is comfortable
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If you leave temporarily and if the DB person is not sitting down, he may need something substantial to touch to keep his bearings while he waits for you to return. Choose a place that is not in the direct sun or in a draft or in the way. Be aware of traffic patterns: Notice how and where people are moving around the room. Don’t leave the DB person standing in a hallway or doorway where she is likely to be in the way.

Culture 5
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If it seems appropriate, introduce the DB person to other people: Meeting new people is difficult when you are Deaf and blind. Other people are sometimes shy around DB people. New friendships often begin with an introduction. Sometimes, old friends are shy to approach the DB person, make the first step by “reintroducing” them.

Questions?
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For Wednesday: Bring a bandanna or scarf long enough to tie around your head and Earplugs We will have “trust” walks and experiential learning


				
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