BESB: Emergency Response Tips for Working with Individuals Who Are Blind

Emergency Response Tips for Working with Individuals Who Are Blind

In the event of a statewide emergency, the Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director of the Board of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB) shall forward to CRIS Radio, the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut, the Southeastern Connecticut Community Center of the Blind and the Chairs of the Agency Board, State Rehabilitation Council, Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors and Consumer Advisory Committee all instructions received from federal, state and local authorities so that the widest possible distribution of information can occur in a timely manner to individuals who are blind. In addition, instructions and information will be recorded on the agency voice mail system that can be accessed by calling (800) 842-4510 toll free, and posted on the agency website ( for public access.

Key points to remember when distributing materials to individuals who are blind: 

∑ Avoid the use of varying font types. Arial 16 bold print is recommended. Sharp contrast, such as black letters on a white background is also preferred for any materials that are distributed.
∑ Avoid underlines and italics for electronic materials that will be posted on a web page or distributed through diskette.
∑ Avoid excessive use of frames, tables, JAVA/ASP, and graphics (If graphics have to be used ensure the ALT text is filled out).
∑ Avoid the use of PDF files to distribute announcements and documents. The best format for email or electronic distribution is a simple text based format with left justified margins.
∑ Pictures and graphs imbedded into text documents cannot be identified by screen reading and scanning software and may impede accurate translation into speech output. If pictures or graphs are included in handouts, it is best to place them underneath a section of text, and label the graphic immediately underneath with text.
∑ Materials that require translation into Braille can be obtained by providing an electronic text version (email or diskette) to the Board of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB) by calling (860) 602-4100.

Tips for First Responders:

∑ Upon approaching an individual who is blind, make your approach heard before you are within close personal proximity, by identifying yourself with name, agency and purpose. 
∑ Donít shout or talk in a slow voice, unless there is an indication that the individual is experiencing a hearing loss in addition to blindness.
∑ If printed information must be given to the individual because there is not an accessible version available, read the contents if time permits. At the very least, identify what information is contained in the handout so the person will know what it addresses. Offer to find a volunteer to read the information if time does not permit the first responder to handle this task directly. 
∑ Inform the individual in advance of any activities that require touching, such as first aid administration so that it will not be startling or unanticipated. 
∑ Ask the individual if he or she needs assistance to travel to a safe location. Offer sighted guide by extending an elbow for the individual to hold. Lead the individual to the location using this guided technique, announcing any obstacles or uneven ground before encountered.
∑ Offer to orient the individual to unfamiliar surroundings. Identify the location of important items, using directional cues from the individualís vantage point (for example-there is a table with beverages and sandwiches 5 steps to your left). Offer to place the individualís hand on the items to assist with orientation. Indicate whether a door is opening to the left or right.
∑ Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness. When arriving to administer first aid, be alert to any symptoms that may indicate the urgent need for medical treatment. 
∑ If an individual has a guide dog, remember to respect the right of the individual to travel with this service animal at all times. 
∑ Ask the individual if there is adaptive equipment within safe reach that would be of assistance to take with them, such as a talking note taker, long white cane or magnifier.

Content Last Modified on 2/1/2007 3:46:37 PM