Heavy Traffic, Escalators, Elevators and a blindfold walk (independent living skills series 20)

I woke up feeling anxious not because of the van or because of my lesson, but because a friend of mine was having a medical procedure. I quickly got dressed and had breakfast. I was picked up on time and was early for class. I was able to talk to one of the staff members and my classmates. Soon our student conference room was packed with students and staff members alike. Because we had new students joining our class, we had a quick introduction.
I had Orientation and Mobility with the part-time teacher. When we got into the van, and the key would not fit into ignition. Come to find out we were in the wrong van. Once we were in the correct van we made our plans for the day and took off. The first heavy traffic crossing was scary. I learned about the traffic light to cross. For my audience who live abroad, there are buttons for people to push before they cross the road. There is either a red hand, which means not to cross or a white person, which means it’s safe to cross. Also, there is a count-down timer that will tell the pedestrian to hurry up before the cars go again.
At the next intersection, my teacher pointed out that there were two buttons to cross the road and they had different tactile features, and each button faced the street I wanted to cross. This helped me a lot. I aligned my body ready to take off, but I missed my traffic surge to go. I had to push the button and wait again. I saw the light change from red to white and heard my traffic signal and took off. I crossed with success. I crossed two more times, each time gaining more confidence. Once I reached my starting point, my teacher asked me if I felt comfortable with crossing. I was feeling confident, and on top of that I was a little sweaty from the rising heat from the Florida’s sun. We decided to move to the mall and we would practice more heavy traffic during my next lesson.
At the mall, I had to find a landmark before I could start mind mapping to find the escalators. For my landmark, to help me find the store’s entrance, I chose the watches and purses. I started mind mapping and found more purses that was by the down escalators. Once again, I hesitated before getting on. I had my cane to far out in front of me. Once I corrected myself and got some encouragement from a store employee. I got on with no problem. I went around and came back up. By the time I did it a second time I had my confidence back. My teacher and I then went and moved onto the elevators. While we were walking to the elevators my teacher told me the employee was proud that I got passed my fear and was able to ride the escalator with confidence.
When we got to the elevators we first went over the buttons on the panels and the types of doors elevators have. We went on and went down. She showed me how to check the panel to see if I am on the right floor. To do this you hold your cane in one hand and hold the door with your arm, and then use your free hand to check the panel. After this lesson we left the mall, and went to a McDonald’s drive-through. I got a cheeseburger, fries, and a French vanilla ice coffee. Everything hit the spot.
We then went back to the center for our final lesson of the day. A blindfold walk. My teacher had me do some shore lining or two-point touch to find and follow the grass outside. The first time I did it I was scared. My teacher had to prompt me to walk faster and give me reassurance that I would not get hurt. I had to trust her and my cane. I was slow, but I did it. She had me do it a few more times and each time I gained more confidence.
We went on to review sighted guide. Which I got wrong the first time, however after correction I got it right.
She showed me how to find a seat and sit down. We then went and worked inside the school.
It was a long and rewarding day.

Crossing the streets blindfolded (independent living skills series 11)

I was early for class, and I was glad I was because my classmates and I were able to connect on levels of being visually impaired, and the impact of having a disability. Soon we headed inside and we started class on time. We all had our assigned lessons and we went our separate ways. I had Orientation and Mobility. The lesson we had was reviewing how to cross streets, however to help us focus on our skills we were going to do it blindfolded.

Now before anyone freaks out, our teacher does this one student at a time and stays within our space and she will grab us if we make a wrong move. This will keep us from getting hurt.

I was going with another student who was nervous about our lesson, however I had confidence. Because of this fact I volunteered to go first. Once we got downtown, before I put my blindfold on, we chose our landmark. I put my blindfold on and my confidence left. I walked slowly because I was scared. My teacher told me I needed to walk with confidence, and to focus on what my cane felt. Soon I came to my first street crossing; I knew I had to use the sound of the traffic on my right side as a guide.

I heard the sound of the traffic and I took off, but then I hesitated. My teacher helped me get back onto the sidewalk and she said I had to walk with confidence. Once again, I used the traffic noise as a guide and I took off at the right time. I was panicked as I crossed the street, so much so that I missed feeling my cane hitting a curb. If it was not for my teacher being there I would have landed on my face. Because my crossing was so bad, she led me back across the street for a second time. This time I was calmer and I felt my cane hit the curb. Success.

We continued on our journey, and I learned how to move around objects. I also learned how to use the traffic as a guide to keep me moving in the right direction.

Soon I was able to take my blindfold off, and I was grateful.

It was my classmates turn, she did fine with her travel. One thing we talked about was being as independent as possible if we were to lose our site completely.

By this time, it was time for lunch. We went to a local hamburger joint. I volunteered to walk up to the restaurant blindfolded, and I had to re-learn how to open a door. I took my blindfold off during lunch. I had a milkshake, a basic burger and fries. Which is one of my favorite meals. 😊

After lunch, we went and dropped off my classmates at school, and my teacher and I went to the mall. I was still nervous about learning how to step on and off the escalators. However, I found out I had my cane too far out in front of me. Once I had it in the right position, I was able to get on and off with ease.

My confidence was so high that I called a friend, via video chat, and I had my teacher follow me with the phone. It was great to show off my new skill and confidence.