Getting out and about at university
One factor students consider when choosing which university to attend – is the city it is in.
If the university and/or accommodation is in a new city or even a new part of town, there will be lots of new routes to learn – to and from campus, the local supermarket and venues or event spaces hosting social activities.
Although some mobility training is available for blind, partially sighted and deafblind students when they start university, this is limited to accessing academic activities. So for anything else, it can be really helpful for fellow students to lend a hand (or elbow) and offer to be a sighted guide.
A sighted guide is someone who supports a blind, partially sighted or deafblind person to navigate safely and gives necessary visual information. This can include letting them know when there are obstacles or dangers in their path; providing information on the layout of the room, staircase or outside area; or reading signage and other written information such as labels. Guiding someone is really easy, it just takes some extra care and attention, but can unlock opportunities for students who are blind, partially sighted or deafblind.
The most important thing to remember when guiding someone is to do it in the way that they are comfortable with. Remember, not everyone who is blind or deafblind needs to be guided.
Ali spoke to us about his experiences settling in at university and how important it is for students to receive the support they need when learning to navigate a new area, to make sure they don’t miss out on social activities.
Learn how to be a sighted guide
Would you like to learn how to guide someone? Watch these tutorial videos from Guide Dogs which outline the key do’s and don’ts.
Guide Dogs: Friends and Family training sessions
For friends and family of people living with sight loss, Guide Dogs offers a free, virtual sighted guiding training session. The two-hour Friends and Family training session allows participant to share experiences with others and learn the techniques of sighted guiding with expert support from Guide Dogs’ team. Participants can build their confidence in guiding, learn about different sight loss conditions, improve sighted guiding skills and benefit from peer support.
Find out more or sign up for a Friends and Family virtual training session here
Guide Dogs: My Sighted Guide
Guide Dogs also provides the My Sighted Guide service, pairing people who are blind or partially sighted with a trained volunteer guide to help them participate in social, leisure and fitness activities. The service increases independence, confidence and connection with the community – and for volunteers, the chance to learn a valuable skill to add to your CV and improving your own confidence and communication skills whilst supporting someone in your local community. Partnerships usually meet once a week.
Check out this video about Sania, 23, and her sighted guide Alex: Watch here
To find out more about applying for the service, visit: www.guidedogs.org.uk/mysightedguide
And if you would like to apply to be a sighted guide volunteer, visit: www.guidedogs.org.uk/volunteer
About Guide Dogs
Guide Dogs UK is a national charity specialising in supporting the mobility and independence of blind, partially sighted and deafblind people. Not only do they train and care for guide dogs and other support animals such as buddy dogs, they also provide advice and training that support people affected by a sight condition or deafblindness to increase their confidence and independence. Find out more by contacting the team:
Telephone helpline: 0800 781 1444
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