Woman on a tablet at work with another female blurry in the background

Accessibility Tips & Etiquette 


  • Stay calm and behave normally like the way you would do on encountering any other person. Announce your presence with a greeting.
  • Treat a person who is blind or visually impaired as any other person and with the same level of dignity as you would treat individuals who are typically sighted.
  • Be mindful of your facial expressions and gestures.
  • Offer a verbal description of the office or residential layout, and alert them of potential hazards (e.g., a low hanging chandelier). Offer a tour of your facility just like you would do to others. They would like to know where important things are, such as restroom, bathroom fixtures, closet, dining area, stairs, light switches, etc.
  • Use people-first language. For example, “People with visual impairment,” (and not “The visually impaired “); “People who are blind” (and not “Blind people” or “the blind”); “Products created by people who are blind” (and not “Blind-made products”). When unsure if an individual has blindness or low vision, use terms like visual impairment, visually impaired, sight impaired, vision impairment, etc. when referring to their eye condition. This helps avoid under-stating or over-stating their visual capabilities.
  • Treat or speak to adults with vision loss as you would do to typical adults, and not as you would do to children. Vision loss does not affect human development or intellectual capabilities.
  • Use complete sentences instead of shorthand, slangs, or awkward sounding language. Try to keep the message concise to avoid information overload. If you have pictures inserted into a message or document, consider providing meaningful descriptions.


  • Don’t freak out when you first encounter someone with vision loss.
  • Don’t make assumptions about the capabilities, constraints, or needs of a person holding a white cane, wearing sunglasses, or following a guide dog.
  • Don’t assume total blindness or braille literacy just because someone uses a white cane or a guide dog. Some of them have enough residual sight to see your facial gestures under certain conditions.
  • Don’t move your furniture if someone with vision loss visits your office or residence.
  • Don’t talk about the “wonderful compensations of blindness.” Loss of visual perception does not automatically heighten other senses.
  • Don’t use the term “visually handicapped”.
  • Don’t touch or move a white cane without the permission of its owner. This can cause disorientation, anxiety, and feeling of helplessness.
  • Don’t pet, feed, or distract guide dogs. They are not pets; they are working companions for someone with vision loss.
  • Do not startle people with vision loss by touching them without their prior knowledge/ permission.
  • Don’t be offended if they don’t respond to you waving at them or smiling quietly. It is very likely they lack the sight necessary to detect these gestures.
  • Don’t rely on formatting, non-standard abbreviations or tables to communicate important ideas when communicating via email or text. Be aware that someone who is visually impaired will listen to the text of your message verbalized by their assistive technology.
  • Don’t use statements like “It is very sad he/she can’t see,” “It must be really hard not to be able to see, right?” Poor John, I feel sorry for him.” Vision loss can be reduced to a mere inconvenience with the use of proper tools and training. It is not a tragedy or the end of the world for the affected. It should not invoke feelings of sympathy or pity in the observer.  
  • Don’t use statements with implicit bias about vision loss, such as “Do you think I am blind?” “Are you blind? Can’t you see I am busy?”
  • Don’t use qualifying statements, such as “She’s pretty for a girl who is blind.”