I had a fascinating and wonderful experience on Thursday and it was only afterwards I realised I’d done something I’d never done before – I’d been taught a little about sighted guiding and helped a young man to find his way around our building.
I discovered we actually have (albeit small) braille on the lift buttons. I learnt that it’s best for the person being guided to be on the hinge side of the door as you take them through, and how to explain the environment as we walk around. I learnt how to use my hands and elbows to show where something is, like a button on a wall or a sofa to sit on.
Of course I felt self conscious as I was being taught, especially when I had to practice and got things wrong. I felt embarrassed when I explained things poorly and a little frustrated with myself. But overall I was left with the positive feeling of having learnt something useful and helpful for the first time in a long time, and that I was lucky to have met this young man and experience his tenacity and independence.
More than all this I am really looking forward to spending more time learning how much more we can do in society to appreciate how difficult it can be for the blind and what we can do to make things easier.