Hyundai Motability Web Banner
Edit Template
Edit Template

Guide Dogs’ Top Tips for Making Christmas Accessible for People with a Vision Impairment

children with vision impairment at an accessible guide dog christmas grotto

Particularly during the festive period, children with sight loss can face several barriers that can cause them and their loved one’s feelings of exclusion and isolation. Following its successful launch of the UK’s first ever inclusive Christmas grotto, Guide Dogs is sharing some advice on how to make grottos more accessible for people with a vision impairment.

Here are five top tips from Guide Dogs on how to make the festive season more accessible for all those who celebrate.

child at an accessible and inclusive guide dog christmas grotto1.  Introduce yourself

Have you ever thought about how you would approach someone with a vision impairment and how you would offer your support? Simply introducing yourself and asking if the person would like any assistance is the first step. It’s important to ask the person if they need help first – never sneak up on them, grab them or assume they need help without checking. If the person declines your offer, that’s fine – at least you’ve offered. 

Also, when you’re moving away from the person, be sure to let them know you’re leaving them.

If you’re interested in learning how to guide someone with sight loss, check out our top 10 tips for Sighted Guide Training video:

family with guide dog at inclusive christmas grotto

2.  Describe key elements in the surroundings

To bring the festive scene alive, try to be as descriptive as you can – point out key things in their surroundings and describe them using examples that don’t rely on sight. Is the snow cold and crispy? Can you smell pine needles in the air? Is Rudolph’s fur soft and warm?

girl with vision impairment at accessible guide dog christmas grotto3.  Use all the senses

Just because someone can’t see the surroundings well doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy Christmas through their other senses. They can still enjoy the smell of Gingerbread, the sound of carols, or cold snow crunching under their feet. Get creative and think about how you can help people experience your grotto using all their senses.

Also, think about how you can use bright colours and tonal contrast. Good colour contrast can help people with some residual vision make things out more easily – Christmas lends itself well to this as red and white have a good contrast!

Be aware that stimulating the senses too much can be overwhelming and cause disorientation for someone with a vision impairment. Try to use soft, consistent lighting and avoid strong glare or flashing lights. Similarly, make sure your background noise isn’t too loud or distracting.

girl with vision impairment at accessible guide dog christmas grotto

4.  Keep clear of clutter

Christmas grottos are often busy venues full of exciting things like trees, presents and even Santa’s sleigh. Plus, streets and shops tend to be much busier over the festive period with things moved around from their usual position and more clutter.

Be aware that obstacles like these could pose a hazard or make it more difficult and stressful for someone with sight loss to navigate around the venue safely and independently. When planning your event, think about how you can keep walkways clear for people with vision impairment. And, wherever possible, make sure there is plenty of space for someone to navigate with a guide dog, long cane or their sighted guide. 

You could also consider the use of contrasting textured flooring to help the people with a vision impairment navigate their way around (e.g. smoother flooring on walkways and rougher surfaces such as fake snow for surroundings).

girl with vision impairment at accessible guide dog christmas grotto5.  Suitable presents

One of the most exciting parts of visiting a grotto is the presents – but if the gift is something that relies on sight, it can be disappointing for a child with a vision impairment. Things like colouring books, etch-a-sketch and rubix cubes aren’t great options for a child with sight loss. Instead, think about toys they don’t need their sight to enjoy, such as a teddy bear, large print or tactile colouring books, customised short story book, scented pens/pencils or jewellery.

This festive period, Guide Dogs encouraging members of the public to sign up to our Guiding Stars campaign. This introduction to sighted guiding will help to give you the skills and confidence to guide a person with sight loss if they need it. For more information, please visit

U Can 2 Magazine Free subscription
RSR Jixxu
The Sequal Trust

U Can 2 Magazines

Drive Magazines

Edit Template

Ucan2 Magazine is provided be Euromedia Associates Ltd
UK Registered Company Address: 10 Ashfield Rd, Chorley, PR7 1LJ

Tel: 01257 267677  Email:
Registered Company: 02662317  VAT Registration No: GB582161642

Euromedia Associates Ltd Publishers of U Can 2 Magazine  


Guaranteed Royal Mail distribution

Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved.

Designed By Euromedia Associates Ltd

Edit Template