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People Who are Blind or Partially Sighted

There is a wide range of visual impairments. Profound blindness is the inability to distinguish fingers at a distance of three metres or less. Partial sight is the inability to distinguish fingers at the distance of six metres.

A preferred description of blind and partially sighted people is "people with sight problems".

Did You Know?

  • There are around 2 million people in the UK who are blind or partially sighted.
  • Every day over 100 people start to lose their sight.
  • Only 4% of blind people can see nothing at all.
  • Only 3% of blind people use Braille.
  • 10,000 people in Worcestershire will have a significant visual impairment and 90% will be over 60 years of age.

What can you do?

When talking to someone who has a sight problem, don't worry about looking for alternative words to "look" and "see". Blind and partially sighted people speak the same language as everybody else.

Always use the person's name, or lightly touch their arm to get their attention.

Useful Tips:

  • Don't assume what people want – Always ask!
  • Don't pat or feed a Guide Dog belonging to a blind person - they are working dogs.
  • People with white canes are not necessarily totally blind, but even partially sighted people may need help – e.g. at night, in an unfamiliar place or in low lit areas.
  • People with a white cane with red bands on it have both sight and hearing loss, as do those whose guide dog has a red and white harness
  • Identify yourself when first speaking to a blind person.
  • Do speak directly to the visually impaired person and not through a third party.
  • Stand still, so a person with partial sight can maintain eye contact with you.
  • If guiding someone, allow them to hold your arm, rather than vice versa, so they are in control – if totally blind, you will need to offer assistance verbally.
  • Do not leave their company without telling them.
  • Keep floors and aisles clear of clutter and hazards – don't move furniture unnecessarily, tell them if you do.
  • Use conversation informing them of where items have been placed, e.g. cup in front of you, to your left etc.
  • Inform them of the layout of the room they are in and who else is there if they want to know.

Methods of Communication for People with Visual Impairments

Contact Us

Worcestershire Association for the Blind
Bradbury Centre
2 Sansome Walk

Telephone: 01905 723245


This Information can be made available in other languages (including British Sign Language) and alternative formats (large print, audio tape, computer disk and Braille) on request from Corporate Diversity Manager on 01905 766225 or email

Further Information

In this section

More Information

See also in our website

External websites

  • RNIB
    The UK's leading charity offering information, support and advice to almost two million people with sight loss.
  • Action for Blind People
    A national charity with local reach, providing practical help and support to blind and partially sighted people of all ages.
We are not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more

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This page was last reviewed 29 May 2013 at 15:01.
The page is next due for review 25 November 2014.