It’s a wrap! Our Sighted Guide video

Do you ever feel awkward knowing how to best assist people with vision loss? If so, you’re not alone. It’s natural to feel you may be restricting someone’s independence by guiding them to get around.

With this in mind VisAbility has produced a new ‘Sighted Guide video’ which comes complete with audio description. It was produced in collaboration with Curtin University (link opens in new window) and offers some handy advice.

This short accessible video is online so a wider audience can view it.

Your offer to guide someone will usually be welcomed but for some people with low sight, physical contact may be a problem. It’s best to ask if they’d like assistance.

Andrew Lyons
Former Manager Partnerships and Development

“Our advice is to introduce yourself, communicate clearly and listen to their response,” adds Andrew.

Participants who took part in the video smile standing on a footpath in Araluen Botanic Gardens
It was a team project featuring staff and clients from VisAbility, with filming taking place at Araluen Botanic Garden in Perth.

Collaboration with Curtin University

Andrew knew that Curtin University offered placements to its film students, so contacted Sally Goldrick, a lecturer in broadcast production on the Bachelor of Arts Media degree.

“When I received Andrew’s email, I thought it looked interesting. We receive a lot of requests for assistance to create videos, but not usually from not-for-profits, so immediately I thought yes, let’s get involved. It’s not that often you get to contribute to something as unusual as a sighted guide video.’’  

Two final year students in Screen Art were assigned to the project, Georgia Wells and Krystal Butterworth. Together they drew up a comprehensive brief and selected the participants or so-called talent.

This included VisAbility’s Orientation and Mobility Officer, Amy Barrett-Lennard and Arts Therapy Assistant, Robyn Laycock. Three people, all of whom are legally blind were also involved in the project. They were VisAbility Youth Officer, Ryan Honschooten, Assistive Technology Officer, Emmanuel Lee and teenage client Jayde Abbott.

“I soon realised the importance of this project and what a great resource this would be. Meeting Ryan, Emmanuel and Jayde who are blind and hearing their own individual stories gave me a greater insight into the issues they faced,” explains Krystal.

“I totally agree, I really enjoyed our shoot days and it was so satisfying to know that I was part of something which was going to support others long term,” adds Georgina.

The filming took place at Araluen Botanic Garden in the Darling Ranges near Perth. There are seven sections to the final video so people can get a clearer understanding of better practises. Subjects include approaching people, changing direction and navigating narrow spaces.

“It was a great team project, it has a warm and light-hearted feeling. We had fun making it and that comes across,” adds Krystal.

A memorable production – our Sighted Guide video!

The Sighted Guide video is available on YouTube in its seven separate sections with audio description, captions and transcripts.

The full audio described version is below.

Sections of the video include:

  • Guiding techniques
  • Approaching someone and setting off
  • Narrow spaces
  • Changing directions
  • Getting through doorways
  • Taking a seat
  • Getting into a car.

Greeting and guiding

Here’s some useful information to consider as a sighted person offering guidance.

  • Introduce yourself and communicate clearly and check they’d like assistance.
  • If you are going to guide them, ask them how they like to be guided.
  • Allow them to take your arm to assist them.
  • Tell them about kerbs and steps as you approach them and say whether they go up or down.
  • Mention any potential hazards that lie ahead and say where they are.
  • If you are guiding someone into a seat, place their hand on the back of the seat before they sit down, so they can orientate themselves.
  • Don’t walk away without saying you are leaving and make sure they are comfortable being left on their own.

If you’d like more information why not contact Accessible Information Services? They can help you convert material into Braille or audio, offer accessibility training workshops and help you with audio description.

Full transcript of the audio description of the Sighted Guide video:

Transcript: Guiding Techniques (Full video) with Audio Description

[Upbeat Music]

Audio Description (AD): [A group of people sitting on a park table.]


My name is Amy Barrett-Lennard and I am one of the Orientation and Mobility Specialists here at VisAbility.

This video provides an overview of guiding techniques, which is when one person is being assisted through an environment by another person. So the person being guided is usually blind or vision-impaired and they’re usually being guided by someone who is sighted but they might also be a vision impaired themselves.

In this first video you’ll see Jade being guided by Robyn. You’ll notice that Robyn approaches Jade and offers assistance without assuming that she needs it. Jade takes Robyn by the elbow and then Robyn starts to guide Jade.

That was an example of the basic guiding technique but there are ways to modify it. So for example, if you are guiding a child, they might prefer to hold on to your pinkie and ring finger, or even your wrist rather than your elbow, and if you are guiding a more elderly person that needed a bit more support, they might want to link arms with you. Guiding can take place on the left hand side or the right hand side and it really comes down to the individual preference of the person being guided.

Hi, I’m Jade. I’m a client of VisAbility and, I like playing goalball, singing and horse riding.

[Amy]: This next technique shows an example of someone being guided through a more narrow space, so as Robyn is guiding Ryan across the bridge, she brings her arm behind her back to signal to Ryan that they need to go single file. It can also be used in environments like movie theaters, auditoriums basically anywhere where you can’t fit through side-by-side.

AD: [Robyn and Ryan continue walking]

Hi, I’m Ryan Honschooten, Youth Support Worker at VisAbility and I really enjoy getting out on the water and doing a lot of sailing competitively and fun. I love kayaking, I do a bit of radio as well, community radio and really enjoy playing blind cricket which is an awesome game, and of course goalball. I think I have to be the best coach in the world.

[Amy]: There may be times during guiding when you suddenly need to change direction, so some examples are when you go into a lift and you need to exit the same door that you came in, or you just realized you’re going the wrong direction we want to turn around.

So rather than doing a big full 360 circle which can be quite disorientating and even a dizzying for the person being guided, we recommend these technique to change directions.

So, Robyn and Manny simply take a step in towards to face each other.
Manny establishes a new grip on Robyn’s other arm and then they step backwards facing the new direction.

AD: [Robyn and Manny continue walking.]

My name is Manny and my hobby is to play music, because I enjoy playing with different types of people and with different groups and my other hobby is to do a tandem bike riding.

[Amy]: This video shows the technique of Robyn guiding Ryan up and down a set of stairs. So, there’s a few things to remember when guiding on stairs. One is that in Australia we usually stick to the convention of sticking to the left hand side of the stair rail.

The other is that if there is a handrail available, it’s completely up to the individual whether they want to use that or not. The guide needs to remain one step ahead of the person being guided at all times and alert them to when there is one more step remaining, and it’s also important
to mention whether the stairs are open or closed so that if they are open, the person being guided needs to be aware so that their toes don’t get caught underneath.

[Ryan] If you’re a person out in the general public and you see someone with a vision impairment that might need your help, before you just grab their arm or offer sighted guide, ask them first if they need to help or would like to be guided.

AD: [Chalet Healy Café], [Manny and Robyn walking towards the café]

[Amy] This video shows the technique of Robyn guiding Manny through a doorway. The main thing to remember is that Manny needs to be on the hinge side of the doorway.

Robyn takes hold at the door handle, passes it to Manny and then Manny is responsible for shutting the door behind him.

You’ll also notice one of the videos, that Manny starts off being on the non-hinge side of the door, so he moves across to Robyn’s other arm before they negotiate the doorway.

[Manny]: I use sighted guide when I’m in a busy places such as, restaurants or public places.

AD: [Flowers in a vase on a shelf], [Manny and Robyn enter the café]

[Amy]: This video shows Robyn guiding Manny to a chair at the table. So Robyn places her guiding hand on the back of the chair and indicates where the table is located.

This allows Manny to trail down Robyn’s arm and find the chair. Robyn then steps back and allows Manny to pull out the chair and take a seat at the table.

So, while you don’t want to over complicate things when you’re guiding someone into a seat, it is important to mention whether the chair has arms and whether it’s on casters.

AD: [Jade smiles, waiter places coffee on the table, Ryan takes a sip of coffee.]

[Amy:] This video shows Robyn guiding Jade into a car seat. So as Robyn approaches the car, she places her guiding hand onto the door handle. It allows Jade to trail down her armed and locate the door handle. Robyn also indicates the height of the car. Jade is aware of this when she’s stepping into the car. Robyn then steps away and allows Jade to open the door and take her seat.

[Jade]: Let the person know you’re there and just ask them if they need help.If they say yes, then help them.

[Upbeat music continues and fades out]

AD: [VisAbility logo],

[End credits]
Produced by Krystal Butterworth, Georgia Wells
Crew: Lawrence Bote, Elouise Greenwell, Sean Walsh
Special Thanks: Araluen Botanic Park, Chalet Healy Café, Curtin University

[Upbeat Music continues playing and fades out]