Section four: Public Transit and Paratransit-Going Places: A Hadley School for the Blind and Visually Impaired review

This lesson was on public transit and paratransit and it gave me feelings of anger. That is because I know how limited paratransit can be in my local area. Using my local paratransit makes me feel trapped.

There were four sections in this lesson. The first one was about the advantages and disadvantages of both public transit, which can include buses, subways, trains, etc. and Paratransit. When it comes to public transit, I have only taken the bus twice.  The first time was for Orientation and Mobility training. I was really nervous when I took the bus that day. It was nice to have a lesson on it though. The second time I took it was when I took it with my best friend to get back to her dorm when we had a sleep over. I felt that the second time was much better because my friend knew the bus route very well. I felt confident in her travel skills. Because the nearest bus stop is too far away from my home, I have to use paratransit. I really wish our public bus system was closer. I would travel more and I think I would feel more confident with my travel skills.

For most of my travel I use paratransit or I get rides from family and friends. When it comes to the advantages and disadvantages the disadvantages of using my local paratransit outweigh the advantages. One of the main disadvantages is the paratransit is either very late, up to 30 minutes to an hour or more or sometimes they forget you all together. I have lost count of how many times I have missed events or appointments due to the lack of quality of service in my area.  I agree with the course that sometimes you can get bad feedback because you use a service that is for those who have disabilities. I personally have had feedback both positive and negative from people in our community.

Even though this is a problem there are some advantages of paratransit I like. For example, I only have to pay $7.00 for a trip. I like the fact that they come right to your door and drop you off at your location. I agree with the course when it says that some of the paratransit companies have trained their drivers to help people who have disabilities. I have had some very helpful drivers.

The second section was on finding sources of information. I felt that this section was more like a review for me. I found out more information about the bus and paratransit system when my family and I attended a local community fair. I also heard about the bus and paratransit from my Division of Blind Services Caseworker. There are many resources such as websites, and community organizations that can possibly help you with information when it comes to learning about your local public transit or paratransit in your area.  Be sure to check it out.

The third section also felt like a review. It covered a basic knowledge of how to plan your trip. One thing that I did not know before this lesson was when taking the bus, plan your route backwards to achieve being at your destination on time.

The last section was on travel tips and this section helped me immensely. I learned there are a variety of ways that you can file a complaint. I personally would like to start using these tips and I want our paratransit system to improve it’s service.

2019: More Movement, Patience and Positivity April Edition

April was a really tough month for me for personal reasons; however, I am proud of my achievements and for pushing through it.

When it came to movement I had to remind myself that the more I move and walk the better I would feel. My weight has been going up and down. Thankfully it is in the right direction again. I am proud of my achievements as I have been volunteering by writing for SANE: Changing mental Health for Good for one year.  I accomplished an even bigger achievement by getting my first paycheck for an article I wrote. I never thought that I would be paid for my writing. My perseverance has paid off.

When it comes to my education, I just finished my second Hadley course. I cannot wait for my final grade and to be able to sign up for my next course. In addition to this, I finished my training at the local center for the blind and visually impaired; and I have earned my certificates.

When it comes to patience, I am waiting for a few things to come in the mail. I will be using these items for my blog and YouTube videos. I have been working on a #Secret project, and it is slowly coming along. I learned that I must be very patient with this.

Lastly, I am still learning that being positive has a big impact on what I can achieve. If I think positive thoughts and I set goals I can achieve just about anything. I truly am getting closer to my dreams and goals one day at a time.

Remember that you can achieve your goals and dreams too. 😊

 

Interview with Luke (Guest Blog Post #10)

Hi Everyone, this month I got the pleasure  of interviewing my friend Luke. Luke has his own blog. He is an amazing blogger.  Please be sure to check out his blog and other social media links. Many thanks to Luke for featuring me on his website.

  1. What is your name?

Luke

  1. Age?

I’m 28, although I feel much older.

  1. Who has inspired you the most in life and blogging?

I would probably have to say my Mum. She always supports me whatever I do, but my biggest blogging inspirations would have to be Mikhela and Caroline Hirons.

  1. Besides writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I really like to read, mainly Autobiographies, and also love to watch as much TV as I can.

  1. Name a bad habit that you have?

I occasionally pick my Nails, but I can often go months without doing it.

  1. Name your best quality?

I would probably have to say my willingness to help anyone.

  1. If you could interview anyone living or dead who would it be and why?

I would have to say either Joan Rivers or Sarah Millican, as I think that they would have some great stories about their lives and the people that they’ve worked with to tell.

  1. What is your college major/Minor?

I don’t have one.

  1. What school (college or university) did you go to?

Queensbury School in Bradford. It was a decent School at the time but it’s gone very downhill since I left and at one point ended up in special measures, which is kind of OFSTED’s, the governing body of Schools, naughty step.

  1. What is the title of your blog?

Luke Sam Sowden.

  1. When and why did you start your blog?

I started on the 1st of October 2014, and I started because it took quite a lot of work. to film, edit and promote the YouTube videos that I was uploading at the time.

  1. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully still writing my Blog but to a bigger audience, and maybe even the owner of some kind of small business.

  1. What is the name/cause of your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have)?

I have Retinitis Pigmentosa, which is a hereditary Eye condition, which unfortunately means that I have Tunnel Vision, which is more like looking through a Funnel rather than a Tunnel, Night Vision, which means that I can’t see at Night and floaters, which are like little pieces of White Fluff that float around my Eyes every so often.

  1. How does your visual impairment or other disability that you may have effect you on a daily basis?

My visual impairment makes it difficult to read text like my mail and misjudge where things are.

  1. What do other people feel about your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have)?

Most of the people including my Family and Friends, are perfectly fine with my condition as they know that I can’t change anything about it, but there are some people that aren’t and somehow take the fact that I can’t see properly as an insult towards them but I don’t give them a second thought.

  1. If you had to give one piece of advice to others about having a visual impairment (or other disability that you may have) what would it be?

Just that the best thing is to get on with your life and don’t take any notice of what other people might think.

Where can other people find you on Social media (Please list and provide links)

My Blog |http://www.lukesamsowden.com

YouTube |http://www.youtube.com/user/lukesamsowden

Facebook |https://www.facebook.com/lukesamuelsowden

Twitter | https://www.twitter.com/lukesamsowden

Instagram |https://www.instagram.com/lukesamsowden

If you are a disability writer, blogger, or YouTuber and would like to be a guest on my blog feel free to contact me by email at: amanda@amandagene.com

Section three: Walking and Biking-Going Places: A Hadley School for the Blind and Visually Impaired review

In this section of “Going Places” from my Hadley School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Review I want to talk about what I learned about walking and biking.

This lesson brought back memories of my childhood. As a child, one of my favorite things to do was to ride my bike. I found that riding my bike was fast and fun! I did some walking to and from school when I was in middle school; however, my mother was always worried about my safety. She was so worried about my safety because one day I did not return home on time. I walked home with a friend a different way and it took us longer to get home. After that, my mother had me tested for Orientation and Mobility. In the report, it basically said that my mother needed to let me be more independent. She hardly let me walk home on my own and as a result I felt less independent than my peers. This leads me to the first section of the lesson: Advantages and disadvantages of walking and biking. I feel the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Both walking and biking can be low cost and good for someone’s health. I learned that with correct planning both of these can be enjoyed.

During sixth grade my mom and other adults started talking to me about safety issues, such as coming home from school on time, having phone numbers to call in case I were to get lost, etc. Reflecting back on this, as an adult, these are basic common-sense issues that should be taught to any child early. I feel that if a child wishes to walk or bike somewhere, as long as it’s safe, let the child do it. I feel that If I was exposed to walking and biking earlier, I would have been more confident with my travel skills.

When it comes to trip planning the more you do it the easier it becomes. Start teaching these travel skills early! For example, you can teach landmarks. My mother started teaching me this from a young age. She also taught me compass directions and map reading. Remember you are your child’s best advocate! You may want to request support from an Orientation and Mobility specialist to get help in white cane training and with the examples I mentioned.

 

Section two:Practical Implications-Going Places: A Hadley School for the Blind and Visually Impaired review.

The second section of my Hadley “Going Places,” review really gave me some strong emotions. Feelings of sadness, anger, jealousy, among other emotions surfaced because in the second section we talked about how our family and friends feel about the effects of us not being able to drive.

Let me give you an example, last year, I had a really bad tooth ache, and my grandpa had to take me to an emergency dental appointment. If my grandpa would have not been able to take me then I would have either continued to be in pain or I would have had to take a taxi which can be expensive. I am thankful that I was able to go and he was able to take me; however, on the other hand, he had to drop his plans. He could have been doing other things instead of taking me. He helps me because he cares for me. I was able to say thank you for taking me by doing a little extra around the house. This is a good example of what the course called balancing and bartering. Not only did this case speak of balancing and bartering but this example shows how it allows others, including myself, to talk about the impact of your inability to drive.

Another example I can give, was from 2015, when I had a part-time job. I had to use the paratransit to get to work. The paratransit is usually very late picking me up. While waiting for my ride that day, my eyes began to fill with tears; I felt embarrassed because I knew I would be getting to work late, and I worried about getting fired. My grandpa felt frustrated with the situation. I wanted to be a good employee, and I knew I needed to be on time. That day we both vented about how it would be better if the van was on time and if I had the same driver every day. I learned in the course that it is important to communicate your feelings with family and friends. It is also important to be fair and to give back to those who help you. One thing that bothers me is how some of  my family does not understand how wide-spread my city is. It takes me an hour or more, using paratransit, to get somewhere. When they suggest walking somewhere, they do not realize that walking is a limited option for me.

The section continued to talk about how to explain to family members and friends about what you can see, how well you can see, and how it can impact your life. This caused me to have strong emotions.  One thing that bothers me is some of my family refuses to learn and understand how bad my vision is.  Sometimes I wish I could give them a mock situation of what my vision is like. One thing that I learned from my best friend is. At the end of the day, they get to have their sight back. I do not. Having a visual impairment is challenging, but it is manageable when you have the right tools in place to succeed. I wear glasses, and I have had independent living training, and this has helped me feel confident. Despite this some of  my family still refuses to understand. I believe in trying and not giving up. One thing the course recommended, that I am already doing, is to exchange goods for rides. When my friend takes me out shopping, I usually buy her lunch. The course has taught me other things about being fair and having a “transportation tool kit”

The third section was on how to deal with community interactions. This section helped me in many ways. It taught me how to have a basic statement so others can understand my visual impairment and what I can see. It also explained about how to talk about accommodations. Like being sure the driver knows to come to the door when they arrive.  Sitting close by the driver helps me feel at ease. I like to look out the window when I am traveling. I feel better when I can see where I am going.

The next section was on relocating, and once again I felt strong feelings. Personally, relocating is something I can not do right now. However, I can see the advantages of being close by things such as shops, a pet grooming salon, and gas stations etc. Maybe one day this will be an option for me.  Another thing that was covered was reasonable adjustments. For me this means online shopping. 😊 It helped reinforce the fact that online, catalog, and TV shopping can be helpful. The more independent I can be the better.

The next section was safety. For me, personally this section talked about a lot of things I already knew. Such as having a backup plan in case your ride forgets you, to carry a separate wallet for your fare money, and carry a cell phone. However, there was two things I had never thought of before. The first thing was to carry a whistle with you. This makes sense in case you need to get someone’s attention. The second thing I learned was to carry a camping chair with you in case you have to sit and wait for a while. The course also talked about having an emergency plan. Have extra cash on you for a cab, extra charging cords, etc.

The last section was on how to plan a budget which you would only use for traveling. I felt like this section was helpful because it offered a simple example of what a budget could look like. Since I have never fully planned out a budget just for travel, I decided to start using one. This section pointed out the highs and lows of not being able to drive, and the importance of having reliable transportation.  I know that once I start living on my own transportation will be costly. The course offered a tip that we should use around 75 percent of our budget on travel.

In the next blog post I will be talking about walking and biking.

 

A Hadley School for the Blind and Visually impaired review-Section one: Feelings of being a non-driver

This past week I decided to embark on my second Hadley course. This class is called “Going places.”  The class helps students realize their potential as a non-driver. As a person, who can not drive myself, I hope that my audience will benefit from having me share my experiences. In the first part of the course, we are asked to explore the emotions that we feel because we can not drive. These feelings can be both positive and negative. Some positive feelings that were disgust were being able to do something special other than drive, being able to enjoy hobbies here at home and being able to get more exercise by walking or biking. Some negative feelings that were included were anger, depression, Isolation, dependence and lack of spontaneity.

For me, I honestly can say the strongest emotions that I have felt as a non-driver are anger and depression. I feel angry that the fact that I cannot drive impacts my life so much. Not being able to drive impacts my career, being able to meet with friends, or just to go shopping.

In my town, there is a lack of public transportation, and this makes me feel like I am dependent on my family and friends.  My anger comes more from a lack of knowledge and empathy from possible employers because I do not hold a driver’s license.

Exploring my emotions even deeper I started feeling a lot of these negative feelings when I was a teenager. I felt many of them when most of my friends were getting their learning permits and their driver’s licenses.  I was very angry when I was sixteen when I was told I would not be able to drive. I often asked myself, “What will be come of my future if I can not drive?”

I have had  reactions of depression because I have had feelings of isolation from time to time.  Many of my friends work, have families to take care of, or they simply do not have time to meet with me.

Another emotion I feel is a lack of spontaneity and growth. I see a lot of my friends and family through social media going on trips, even small ones to the store, and having families of their own. I sit back with my cup of coffee and go, “Well, I sure wish I could have children of my own or go to Europe.”

I never talked about being a non-driver much except for a short lesson with my qualified teachers of the visually impaired. My mother did not get out much. I had a lack of positive ways to see non-driving. I did not have orientation and mobility until I was an adult.

However, if I look at these feelings, I can see some of the positive reactions that the course has to offer.  I am able to use the internet to build my own online business to help educate others, such as parents, children with sight loss and Nystagmus, and the general public, that we can achieve our dreams and live active lives. I am able to enjoy going for a walk, I am able to enjoy many hobbies at home such as sewing, cooking, and reading.

I can call a friend on the phone or use Facebook messenger or What’sApp to have a quick chat. With a little bit of planning I am able to go and meet friends in town. If I plan and work hard, I know one day I will be able to go on more trips. For now, going to Walmart is just fine.

I find that keeping busy helps with depression. I usually keep a to-do list of things that I need to do during the day such as writing my blogs, doing laundry, and getting some exercise. I have found joy in staying at home and going out when I can.

My advice to parents is to explore your own feelings and concerns for your children. If they are old enough have a conversation about being a non-driver and the feelings, both positive and negative, that they may feel. Start building a positive relationship with using low vision aids such as a cane and telescope. Push for orientation and mobility if you feel like your child is going to need it.

Have you, as a parent, or your child ever experienced any of these feelings? If so, when did they start? What are some ways that you can deal with them?  In my next blog post I will discuss the impact of being a non-driver and how it can impact your family and friends.

Going places: A Hadley School for the Blind and Visually impaired Review

Introduction: I decided to take this course because not being able to drive has a big impact on my life. Even though I can not give out course information I am going to give you some inside as to how I feel about each topic that was covered in this course, and how I feel you may be able to benefit from either taking the course yourself, it is free to parents, and students who are sixteen or older, or how you can use my topics to help start talking about being a successful non driver with your child, teen or young adult.

I highly recommend taking the course online or with your child if your child is old enough to enroll in the course. To sign up for the course you can either enroll online at: https://www.hadley.edu/EnrollNow.asp or mail in an application.

I mailed in my paper application. The application was simple and easy to fill out. I needed a letter from my caseworker to verify my status as a visually impaired person. I believe that your child’s eye doctor can also fill out the forms.

After about a week I called to check the status of my application and I found out that I could start my class right away. The student services office was very helpful.

As I examined each of the five sections I thought about how I felt about the different situations I could face and the modes of transportation I could use. .

Some modes of transportation I have taken myself and I know first hand what it feels like to use them. However, some of the modes of transportation, which I will talk about further in my blog posts, I have not thought about as an option for myself.

I hope that you find these next few weeks of this series to be helpful for learning that you can be successful as a non-driver and that, if you are a parent, that this will open some doors of ways to communicate with your child, teen or young adult. I hope my insights will help you deal with some of the emotions that you may feel as you think about and process your child’s future.

I want to open up a way to communicate with my audience. Feel free to chime in down in the comments below on how you are feeling as I post each section review and always feel free to ask questions! I will try my best to answer your questions as honestly as I possibly can.