The key to a successful relationship is good communication. Establishing clear and open communication between a carer and the person who has low vision will aid independence.
Living with low vision can at times be challenging. Sometimes just having someone there to listen makes all the difference. Take time to listen to the person who requires care. Let them know that they are important and that they are supported.
Useful skills and techniques
Useful communication skills and techniques for communicating with a person with low vision:
- Let the person know you have entered the room or joined the group and if appropriate who else is there
- Identify yourself by name
- Always make it clear to whom you are talking by using the person’s name
- Let the person know when you are leaving the room so he or she is aware you are no longer there
- Speak as you would normally – it is not necessary to raise your voice or slow your speech simply because someone has vision impairment.
- Use the language you usually use in conversation
- Advise if there are animals in the room or house
- Check if the person is more comfortable with the lights on or off
- Check that when seated the person is not facing the window to avoid glare in their eyes
- Always address the person directly and never in the third person
- Never assume a person will need or want your help
- If you are unsure, ask “Do you need help?” or “How may I help you?”
- Use supportive language and assure the person they are not a burden
- Demonstrate empathy, not sympathy
When communicating with a person who has low vision it may be necessary to use small verbalisations because the person may not be able to see a head nodding or other body language.
Active listening, when someone listens to the person who is talking to them with their full attention, is an important part of communicating with a person who has low vision.
Active listening also means waiting for the other person to conclude speaking before the listener begins to talk. This communicates to the other person that there is interest in the person and what they have to say.