Brian Cunningham, a volunteer from the Dundee Fundraising Branch of Guide Dogs for the Blind who is a qualified My Guide Trainer, came to Pitlochry Youth Hostel earlier this year to provide a Level 1 My Guide course for a group of SYHA staff and local residents.

Wilma Watson, Pitlochry Youth Hostel Manager, describes what happened:

“The training was about three hours’ long.  Brian gave a talk to start with on the issues surrounding blindness and the problems of guiding people followed by a demonstration and tips on how to do it.  A blind or partially sighted person holds on to you above your elbow, called the C grip.  If you are going through a doorway or narrow passage, then you hold your arm behind you and guide them through the obstacle.

We then did an assessment in pairs, with one person blindfolded and the other guiding round the youth hostel and around the town.  It’s harder than you think – one thing I hadn’t realised is that you need to give very descriptive directions.   You can’t just say there’s a hill or stairs ahead – you need to describe whether the hill goes up or down, and how steep.  Stairs are challenging and you need to help the person find the banister and stay one step ahead.

If there is a door ahead, then you need to say whether it opens inwards or outwards.  It wasn’t easy being the person guided either and going into town when you can’t see anything was scary. You learn to trust your guide.

A big thank you to Brian Cunningham for providing the training – I am pleased to have new skills to help blind and partially sighted people get out and about safely and recommend more people should do the course.”

About My Guide
My Guide is a service provided by Guide Dogs to support people who are blind or partially sighted get out and about, to do the things they want to do.

One element is My Guide Open for Business – working with businesses and organisations to tailor accessibility training for their staff, enabling staff to effectively serve customers who are visually impaired.

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