Further tips

The links below will provide useful information and fact sheets around how to improve personal safety and assist people who are blind or have low vision advocate for a more accessible community.

It is important that family, friends and members of the public understand how best to offer assistance and guide a person who is blind or has low vision.

These pages provide both written information and images of how to carryout correct ‘guiding techniques’.

Torches and mobility

A good torch can be a very useful mobility aid and generally handy around your home.

Torches can be useful to assist mobility in areas of low light and at night. They can be used to ‘scan’ the ground ahead for potential obstacles and changes in ground surface and depth.

Torches are used by moving the light from left to right, ahead on the path where you are about to walk.

Torches can also be used to locate key holes and locks. They are also handy for looking into cupboards and other dark areas.

Torches can vary in strength, size and weight. They can be hand held or worn on the head.

Most mobile phones have a built in torch function, which is worth trialing.

When choosing a torch:

  • test a range of torches before you purchase one
  • look at the LED (light emitting diode) torches as they are often the most effective
  • select a torch that has an adjustable head and can produce a wide or narrow, intense beam
  • pick a torch that is comfortable to hold and easy carry in your bag or pocket.

Large hardware and camping stores stock a range of torches that vary in cost from $5 to $30 plus.

If you require further advice or assistance, you can request specialist support from an Orientation and Mobility Specialist at Vision Australia.

Personal security

It is important to remain aware of your personal security and potential risks.

Some tips to promote personal safety:

  • choose safe, well lit routes
  • be in control of your personal belongings
  • keep left to avoid walking into others
  • walk with confidence; use positive body language that says you are okay and don't need assistance i.e. walking tall with your head held high
  • plan your route, know your surroundings, use your knowledge, know where to go for assistance
  • know how to ask for assistance or directions
  • be prepared to decline persistent offers of unwanted assistance
  • be alert and remain orientated
  • have a mobile phone, with essential numbers programed, to call for assistance easily
  • consider wearing an "I have low vision" badge.

Be alert and use common sense. Develop a personal safety plan for different situations; when you are home, when you are out and when travelling.

If you require further information or advice, you can request specialist assistance from an Orientation and Mobility Specialist from Vision Australia.

Adding contrast to poles

Poles should be contrasted against their background to avoid potential collision.

Recommendation 1: the whole pole is painted so that contrast is achieved

If the background surface is a dark shade, the pole should be a light shade such as white or yellow. If the background surface is a light shade, the pole should be a dark shade such as black.

Recommendation 2: add contrasting bands not less than 75 mm wide

One band should be placed on the pole between 900 – 1000mm* from the ground. Additional bands should be added at 200mm intervals above or below the 900mm bands as required. Bands at a lower height will be of particular importance in environments where there are younger children or students.

A drawing of a pole depicting where the contrasting bands should be placed

Adding contrast to steps

To add contrast to external steps

  1. Use masking tape to form a straight line 50-75mm from the front edge of the tread for the entire width of each step.
  2. Use masking tape to form a straight line at the front edge of the riser.

    Paint between masking tape strips with contrasting paint. Dark steps will require a light colour, such as white or yellow and light steps require dark paint. Road marking paint is ideal; however your hardware store can suggest something suitable.

    Drawing of a step showing how contrast is best achieved

Consideration should be given to fitting permanent stair nosings (aluminium caps with a colour infill), particularly on internal staircases.

Get more information and support

Read more about living independently. For more information on Vision Australia’s services call our helpline on 1300 84 74 66 or email info@visionaustralia.org. You can also connect with our services here.