Diverse Abilities

Gina Martin

header photo

Tricks Tips and Blindness Hacks

Cutting vegetables1) There are many different types of canes and cane tips for people who are partially sighted or blind to choose from. Every cane gives different information, and each person can explore what type of cane will work best for them.  A cane represents freedom to those who use them. 

2) A white cane identifies to the general public that the person using it has low to no vision. Only 15% of people who use a cane or have a guide dog are totally blind. The rest of us have various degrees of vision remaining, but the vision we have is unreliable. 

3) A white cane is a mobility device for people who are blind or partially sighted. Our cane is a source of freedom for us, allowing us to travel and navigate independently.  A cane makes life easier when you know how to use it. 

4) It is called a cane, not a stick or pole. If someone using it tells you it is a stick, then for that person call it a stick. Most people prefer to call it what it is -either a white cane, rigid cane, straight cane, ID cane, folding cane, cane or mobility cane. 

5) Do not pet, feed or talk to a working guide dog or service dog.  Distracting a working dog could put the handler in danger.  Allow the dog to do what it has been trained to do. 

Please do say hello and speak to the handler.  

6) You know that nod, smile, or gesture of acknowledgment? Being quiet around people who are blind is not helpful.  For the blind or partially sighted person, saying hello or letting us know you are there can be the smile that we miss visually. By just saying hello, you open up the opportunity for us to ask for help if we need it, but most of all your simple hello just treated me like a regular human being and that is all anyone really wants.  

7) Braille is a tactile method that people who are blind use to read and write.

A Braille cell consists of 6 dots. On the left, numbers 1, 2 and 3 go down. On the right, numbers 4, 5 and 6 go down.

Our Canadian money has Braille on it. Here is how you read the Braille. On a $5.00 bill, there is 1 full cell in the top right corner. On a $10 bill, there are 2 full cells. On a $20.00 bill, there are 3 full cells. On a $50 bill, there are four full cells. On a $100 bill, they are in the 1 and 4 position.


8) The words see, look, and watch are not uncomfortable for most people who are partially sighted or blind. We do see, look, and watch, only differently. We watch the same movies, only we turn on something called audio description. (Audio description is narration that provides information for key visual elements. It is also referred to as video description or described video. It’s used to provide information for people who are blind or visually impaired.)

9) Letting someone who is blind know which direction a door opens is helpful.  Examples:

“The door opens towards you from the right.” 

“The door opens away from you to the right.” 

“The door handle is on the left and pulls toward you.” 

“The door handle is on the right and the door pushes away from you.” 

10) If you are kindly holding a door open for someone who is blind, please use words and let us know you are holding the door open for us. 

11) When providing information to someone who has low to no vision, it’s ideal to use directional information in the sentence. The information that you give will allow us to successfully navigate.


“I am passing you on your left”

“There are stairs about 20 feet directly in front of you.”

‘There is an intersection in front of you at the 11 o’clock position.”

“The up escalator is about 10 feet in front of you.”

“There is a seating area to your right, may I show you to the empty seat?”

12) Yelling “watch out” or “look out” is not helpful to those of us with low to no vision. Instead, identify the hazard and where it is.


“There is a tree with low branches in front of you.”

“There are some cables laying on the floor in a few steps.”

“Someone is coming up quickly riding a bike on your right.”

 Advising the person with partial or no vision exactly what you are referring to when wanting to alert them to a situation will be information that they can use and will be grateful for. 

13) Make sure you know the left and right of the person you are giving directions to. Providing incorrect information can be very dangerous for the person with partial or no vision. Take an extra moment to make sure you are correct with their left and right, and not your own left and right. 

14) It is not helpful to be quiet around someone who has low to no vision. We need to hear you, so we know that you are there. Our hearing is an important tool to be able to “see” what is around us. 

15) When talking to someone who is blind, please do not speak louder or slower. Our eyeballs do not work, but our ears do. 

16) Never pull or grab anyone, especially if they are blind. Someone who does not see will be frightened by this. Always speak to let the person know you are there and what your intentions are. Otherwise, you may inadvertently put someone in harm’s way with your good intentions. Always ask before touching or trying to help anyone, and get permission before touching someone’s mobility device or equipment.

17) When I started saying “I am partially sighted” or “I have low vision” instead of saying “I am visually impaired,” I began feeling better about myself. I was no longer using a negative word like “impaired” to describe my disability 5-20 times a day. Not only did I feel better about myself, but my interactions with others became friendlier. 

18) By taking away your weakest sense, it teaches you how to maximize your other senses. In turn, your weakest sense then becomes an asset to you instead of a hindrance.

19) No, I do not believe my hearing gets better because I have sight loss. I do believe we learn to use our other senses differently and put more focus on how to maximize using them.  

20) You look at a flower using your eyes and enjoy its beauty. 

I gently hold the flower, touching the petals and feeling the leaves and stem.  As I breathe in through my nose, I smell the scent of the flower while at the same time I hear the bees buzzing as they skip from flower to flower. I also see the beautiful flower only I see it differently from most.

21) There are many different types of canes and cane tips for people who are partially sighted or blind to choose from. Every cane gives different information, and each person can explore what type of cane will work best for them.  A cane represents freedom to those who use them. 

22) When you have low to no vision, using cardinal directions are helpful for many of us. Cardinal directions are always the same. If my feet turn slightly left or right, then my left or right is no longer correct. Using the suns placement in the sky also helps us know which direction we are facing. 

23) Technology has come a long way in helping people to navigate their environment.  From GPS to descriptive apps or apps that connect to live agents who can assist, technology has taken an incredible step forward in maximizing independence. Unfortunately, when devices are not designed with accessibility in mind, some people are left out of being able to use or buy the product or service.  Without a voice option, new digital appliances both large and small are not accessible to people who are blind or who have low vision. Knobs and buttons allow for independence.

24) There are many ways to label items that you need to identify. You can use bump dots, raised paint for writing, Brailling labels, elastic bands, beads and many other objects that can help identify something that you are trying to identify. 

25) There are many different tools, devices, and techniques one might use to make life easier. What works for one person may not work for another. Know there is always more than one way to do something. It is important that you find what works best for you. 

Interested in learning more about adapting to vision loss? Learn more about our aDAPT to Vision Loss program


Go Back

Comments for this post have been disabled.

Blog Search


There are currently no blog comments.