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Carol Harrison

RTC North

HR/Training manager

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Blind Leading the Blind


Hi Everyone

Is there any one out there that can give me any guidance or advice on developing and delivering an enterprise workshop to people who are visually impaired? 

Kind Regards


8 Responses

  1. you’ve probably done this but…
    I delivered some training for visually impaired people from Guide Dogs, the organisation translated all the pre-work and manuals into braille before the event.
    Incidentally I was expressly asked by the delegates not to get hung up about phrases such as “You see”, “it looks like” and so on.

    I hope this helps

  2. Identify their needs first

    Hi Carol,

    Having trained a number of people in the past with visual impairments. I would advise you to ask the delegates (or the person booking the training) what the needs of the delegates are and don’t assume.

    So for example, many people with visual impairments can’t read braille, some people with visual impairments need a minimum font size, other’s will prefer the handouts to be electronically sent (so they can use screen readers or magnifiers).

    You will need to think about the room layout so it is easy to navigate. Don’t presume you need to ‘help’ people to their seats – they managed to get to the venue without you!

    Also be careful with asking people to write things down (individually or as a group).

    In practice you may find yourself relying a lot more on verbal interaction (from you & delegates) rather than handouts, flipchart and powerpoint.

    Hope this is helpful.


  3. A few things to remember before the session
    I have found visually impaired adults very keen to obtain the utmost benefit from learning experiences. I agree with the earlier comments about making the room easy to navigate and to not get hung up about saying things like: you see and it looks like, etc – using everyday language is what they generally prefer.

    It can be challenging to manage a group of people who can’t work out when it’s ‘their turn’ to speak. I suggest you agree with the group how say a Q&A session will be managed. If they can wear name badges and if they indicate to you when they wish to add something,you can then call upon them to speak, individually, so that they are not all trying to contribute at the same time.

    Always ask whether they need any help before doing something for them and, if they should have a guide dog with them, always let the owner know if their dog is ‘misbehaiving’ in any way – do not tell off their dog.

    Find out whether any of the attendees have a hearing impairement and, if you will be using a hearing loop to speak to them, please remember they will not hear any questions, feedback or, answers from the floor, unless you repeat the information for their benefit.

    Hope it all goes well! Cheryl Beech

  4. anecdotal “name badges”….
    The only occasion (in my 20 odd years of running training events) that a delegate has refused to wear a name badge was a blind delegate…her angry approach was that I expected her to remember my name so I should be prepared to make the effort to remember hers.

  5. Appeal to the other senses….

    Hi Carol

    I use Accelerated Learning Techniques (ALT) to design and deliver learning. One of the premises of ALT is that we take in information through all of our senses – so visual, auditory, kinesthtic (touch / movement), gustatory and olfactory. So design your learning with this in mind – make sure there’s plenty of toys on the table for people to fiddle with (you can relate them to your content), use music and your voice appropriately and don’t be afraid to include activities & exercises that take place in different parts of the room. Scented markers (put them in plastic cups or jars so easy to find), scented plastic flowers and sweets / chocolates further enrich the environment and make for an enjoyable learning experience.

    Also make sure you appeal to as many of the 7 intelligences (or 12 depending on what you read!) as possible. See the work of Howard Gardner for more. Use at least 2 more intelligences besides Linguistic and Logical / Mathematical when exploring / making sense of the new content.

    I once delivered an induction course to a group where one person was blind and the rest sighted (but with other disabilities and conditions). The course had been designed using ALT so there was something for everyone in the course by design – lots of sensory stimulation, games, exercises and activities and I included PowerPoint slides. I had to make sure that I used very descriptive language when talking through the slides and explaining exercises and activities.

    Establish the range of visual impairment of your delegates beforehand and design your course accordingly – best of luck!

  6. Blind Leading the Blind

    Hi Everyone

    Thank you to you all for the interesting and informative replies, you mentioned some very basic advice on things that I had not even thought about so thank you for helping me be a lot more prepared.

    Kind Regards



  7. Blind Leading the Blind
    Hi Carol, as a visually impaired( how I hate that term, but I don’t know of another one that covers everyone) person who also happens to be an ex trainer. The answers you have been given are probably most of what you need. All I would add is that it depends on the degree of VI as this dictates how different or the same as non vi participants the delivery needs to be. For me I think if you are using Powerpoint you need to consider the size of text/colours used and how much information you are putting on the screen.Also I agree that you need to check out with the organiser if you are looking at people who have limited or no usable vision, or a mixture.
    If you are VI and having to listen to verbal cues all the time that can be very tiring( a bit like a deaf person having to watch asign language interpreter), the concentration levels are greater than being able to switch your attention. So change the delivery if you can with discussion etc. Lighting can be really important, and yes Guide Dogs are just well trained dogs, but on a more practical note, if people who are long cane or Guide dog users are going somewhere that is unfamiliar then you might need to consider how you get the dogs used to the place, or if for a relatively short time and few paople who need it, where the dogs can go to relive themselves, and have water available if necessary if the venue is warm.

  8. Guidance on developing/deliveirng enterprise workshop for visual

    My first thoughts would be to contact the RNIB’s Training Department to ascertain the issues you need to consider for this workshop and your local enterprise agencies for advice on the materials/resources you’d need to use for this enterprise workshop.  Hope that’s of some help. 

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Carol Harrison

HR/Training manager

Read more from Carol Harrison

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