Safety Considerations for Support Groups

Safety Consideration At Your Meeting Location

  • Keep the arrangement of the chairs, tables, and location of the refreshments consistent.  This will encourage people to move about independently—it’s easy when you know what to expect!
  • Keep the lighting as glare-free as possible.  Turn on the lights and close the window shades.  Put a tablecloth over a shiny or glass tabletop.
  • Beware of trip hazards! Sometimes they are not avoidable.  For example there might be an extension cord in use that is not normally around.  Post a “guard” or use only after everyone is seated.
  • Most importantly, encourage communication between group members at all times but especially when moving about the room. Accidents can be avoided.
    Example:  “Betty! I’m walking your way with a hot coffee in my hand!”

Safety Consideration for Off-Site Trips

  • Use a “buddy” system to help people feel more comfortable and encourage people to communicate if they are leaving the group for a moment.
  • Consider bringing along more sighted volunteers for extra assistance.  Training these volunteers to use the Human Guide technique will make the experience more enjoyable for both the guide and the guided.  Polly Abbott can provide this training to Chicago-area groups.
  • Human guides should not leave a person with vision loss standing in space without contact with a solid object such as a chair, wall, or a bench.  This will reduce the anxiety of the person with vision loss if they are waiting or resting alone.
  • Advance knowledge of what pedestrians will encounter in the area is very helpful.
  • Alert the group of any changes in surfaces such as ramps, steps, or even sidewalk pavement to anything else such as a gravel path or cobblestones.
  • Encourage people to come prepared with sunglasses, magnifiers, and any other devices they use to control glare and stay independent when out and about.
  • Stop or slow down when changing from outdoors to indoors to allow people’s eyes time to adjust to the new lighting situation.
  • Do not rush or push people to move faster.  People with vision loss often need to take their time and pay attention to walking so as not to trip or fall.