An example of the sighted guide technique. Two woman walk down a sidewalk together. A woman holds the guide's arm lightly above the elbow and allows the guide to walk one-half step ahead.

Physical distancing is impractical for many Canadians with sight loss

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Physical distancing is impractical for many Canadians with sight loss

OTTAWA – Apr. 9, 2020 – In response to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s recommendation that everyone keep a distance of at least two metres from others at all times, the CNIB Foundation is urging people to consider something very important: Canadians who are blind or partially sighted – especially those living alone – may need to rely on a sighted guide (a person who guides someone with sight loss) for urgent needs, including traveling safely to the grocery store, the pharmacy, their doctor’s office, the bank, and back home. 

When Canadians with sight loss urgently need a sighted guide and there's no one available in their household, both the person who is blind or partially sighted and the sighted guide should wear a mask and gloves. On Tuesday, April 7, Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, recommended the use of a mask when grocery shopping or riding transit, when physical distancing is not an option.

“It is nearly impossible to effectively, accurately and safely guide someone who is blind from two metres away,” says Angela Bonfanti, the CNIB Foundation’s senior vice president. “An unintended consequence of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s recommendation is that Canadians with sight loss are being discriminated against, refused entry to businesses, ostracized and potentially placed in a dangerous situation.”

The CNIB Foundation is asking Canadian businesses, government officials and police officers to be mindful of the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities during this pandemic – and practice empathy. Together, we'll continue to create accessible, safe and inclusive communities.

About the CNIB Foundation
Founded in 1918, the CNIB Foundation is a non-profit organization driven to change what it is to be blind today. We deliver innovative programs and powerful advocacy that empower people impacted by blindness to live their dreams and tear down barriers to inclusion. Our work as a blind foundation is powered by a network of volunteers, donors and partners from coast to coast to coast. To learn more, visit

Media contact:
Catherine Kieran
Manager, Marketing & Communications
CNIB Foundation 
Phone: 902-497-6970 

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