Brookline Commission on Disability

How to Guide a Person With Vision Loss

The Town of Brookline, Massachusetts has just released a new instructional video telling and showing via demonstration clips how to guide a person with vision loss in a variety of everyday situations. This video is free to all and may be used by any agencies, organizations, groups, or individuals who find it useful. 

Many people would like to assist a person with vision loss when appropriate but hesitate because they do not know-how. People with vision loss often turn to strangers in various public places for assistance in getting to their desired location, whether it is to cross the street or to find an elevator in an office building or hospital. This new video offers standard instructional guiding techniques for people to understand the best approaches on how to guide someone with vision loss. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, maintaining social distance when guiding a visually impaired person can be challenging. Modifications to the standard guiding techniques are recommended as we work together to mitigate the transmission of the virus. When guiding a visually impaired person, both the individual and the guide should be wearing masks and be facing in the same direction, so their breath is not directed towards one another. Using a glove can protect from skin-to-skin contact. 

"Educating the public on how to guide people safely with vision loss makes everyone more comfortable. These suggested modifications necessitated by the pandemic are certainly timely, said Paul Saner, Co-Chair of Brookline's Economic Development Advisory Board, and former Commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. "A sighted guide providing access while respecting social distancing furthers inclusion," he continued. 

Additional ideas for safe guiding while social distancing can include placing a hand on the guide's back instead of the arm, putting a shopping cart between the individual and the guide with the guide in front, using an adequately sanitized extra cane, as a guiding pole with each person holding one end, and verbal guiding from behind the person with vision loss. The person with vision loss should also be using their usual mobility aid, such as a cane or guide dog, for added safety. 

Produced by the Town’s Commission on Disability, along with Brookline Age-Friendly Cities TV and Brookline Interactive Group, the video is simple and offers repetition in the demonstrations to make learning and remembering easy.

Appearing in the demonstration video are Paul Saner, Brookline Town Meeting member, Co-Chair of Brookline's Economic Development Advisory Board, and former Commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, and Michael Allen, LCSW, Social Worker at the Brookline Senior Center. The video is narrated by Sassy Outwater-Wright, Executive Director, Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. 

  • Saralynn Allaire, Chairperson 
  • James Miczek, Deputy Chairperson 
  • Henry Winkelman
  • Robert Heist 
  • Ann Kamensky
  • Joan Mahon 
  • Elaine Ober
  • James Lee
  • Nancy Moore
  • Select Board Member Heather Hamilton

COVID-19 Resource Guide for Brookline residents with disabilities

Do you have PCAs? Are you in need of PPE?

PPE is available for PCAs free of charge from SEIU. Go to and register to get masks if needed. First come, first served. Supplies are limited. 

Check with your insurance provider (MassHealth or otherwise) regarding gloves or other PPE. Gloves are often covered by insurance. You can get a prescription through your doctor sent directly to your local pharmacy, and they will fill it. Some pharmacies have programs to deliver prescriptions if needed.  

Town of Brookline Parking Map with Handicap Parking Spots 

Brookline ParkingMap Icon  Opens in new window


The mission of the Brookline Commission on Disability is to enhance the quality of life for all persons with any form of disability. We strive to learn about and rectify obstacles on Brookline’s streets and sidewalks, barriers in public and private buildings, or a lack of full compliance in programs, services, and activities which may impede full access and equal opportunity for all citizens. The Commission seeks to foster a town culture in which the needs of all persons with disabilities are understood and addressed.

AAB Variances

Please send copies of AAB Variance applications to BCOD Chairperson: Saralynn Allaire 157 Bellingham Rd Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

Agendas & Minutes

Agendas are available prior to the meetings. Minutes are available following approval.
Most Recent Agenda | View All Agendas and Minutes

30th Anniversary of the ADA

Upcoming Events 

ADA 30 Virtual Rally - July 22, 2020

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the signing of the American’s with Disabilities Act of 1990. While we recognize how much the ADA has increased accessibility for those in the disability community, we also know that there is still a lot of work left to do to ensure equitable access for all.

Every year in Boston, the Mayor’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities hosts a gathering on City Hall Plaza to celebrate the anniversary of the ADA. Our annual “ADA Day” event provides information, food, music, a speaking program, and collectible t-shirts. But more than this, our event gives people with disabilities a valuable opportunity to connect with one another.

This year, we won’t be able to gather in person for the anniversary of the ADA - but we will still be able to connect with each other! Our Commission is collaborating with the Boston Center for Independent Living to host a virtual event - not just to look back at the progress we’ve made in the last thirty years, but to look to the future of disability rights with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Our ADA 30 BOSTON event will be held online this year, on Wednesday, July 22nd, from 1:00 - 2:30 pm. Among guest speakers is longtime disability rights activists Judy Heumann, Courtland Townes III and Sandy Ho. Pre-recorded messages on the ADA have been lined up from Governor Baker, Congresswoman Pressley, Mayor Walsh, and Attorney General Healey, among others. You can register for the event here.

There is one very special part of our annual ADA event that we will still be able to offer to participants this year - our ADA t-shirts! If you’d like us to send you an ADA 30 BOSTON t-shirt in the mail, just fill out this form. Once you receive your t-shirt, send us a picture of yourself wearing the shirt and we’ll post it to our virtual ADA 30 Boston community!

Kennedy Institute Events

As the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) approaches, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute is "pleased to announce two upcoming programs to commemorate the landmark legislation. We hope that you will join us for these exciting programs that will be available virtually across the country."

To learn more about the two upcoming July 2020 events, and to register, please visit: the Edward M. Kennedy Institute's Upcoming Programs