Section Five: Taxis and Drivers-Going Places: A Hadley School for the Blind and Visually Impaired review

This is the last section of “Going Places.” This section talked about taxis and hiring drivers. To be honest I have rarely used these modes of transportation.

When it comes to taking a taxi, I usually use them as part of paratransit. Just like the course said there are many advantages and disadvantages to using a taxi. When I think of the disadvantages several come to mine. Such as the smell and the cleanliness of the taxi, and the cost. When I use paratransit my fair is $3.50 each way.  Once when I had to take a taxi to work I had to pay around $40.00. Truly, the cost of using a cab can be costly.

There are some advantages to taking a taxi. Like actually being able to go somewhere. I have known of some people who live in cities that do not have taxi services. I feel lucky to have this service.

When it comes to hiring a driver, I have never done this before. I am glad the course mentioned it.

The second section the course talked about was about how to gather information about taxis. This information is pretty easy to find. When I have to look up a phone number I either find it using the internet or the old-fashioned phone book. When it comes to hiring a driver it is up to the person who is visually impaired. You have to decide on several different things such as how many hours you need the driver, amount of pay, how many places you need to go, and the type of driving record and car you are looking for. The course offered tips on how to write an advertisement and where you can post the advertisement to find a driver. Of course, safety is always important.

The third section talked about hiring the driver and what to do if you have to terminate the contract that you have between you and your driver. The course recommended that you keep a list of what you are looking for when you are interviewing different candidates. Once you have hired someone be sure to keep a record of their performance.  That way if you do have to terminate someone you have a clear record of why you are terminating their services. The course recommended to always stay professional even if you end up hiring a friend or family member to be your hired driver.

The fourth section taught me a lot about what the course called the Bartering system. This is basically exchanging goods or services for rides instead of money. I already use the bartering system somewhat. When a friend takes me out for a day of shopping, I often offer to buy them lunch in return for the rides around town.  Of course, you can offer other things such as house cleaning and pet sitting.  😊

The fifth and final section was on trip planning. Again, this felt like a review to me. Some tips that I learned was to study your route in advance, so that way if you are paying cash you are not cheated on mileage, carry a cell phone with you, make sure a friend or family member knows about your trip,  and lastly never be a chatter box and give out  your personal information to someone  you just hired or if you decide to take a taxi.

O & M Trivia game on Alexa and Google Assistant Review

I was on Facebook scrolling through, seeing what was going on, when I came across a friend’s post about a new game was on the Amazon Echo, and it is also available on Google Assistant. The free game is called O M Trivia. The game tests a players knowledge about Orientation and Mobility (O and M ). I was eager to try out the game and to see what it had to offer.

I had trouble finding the game by using my voice, so I had to use my Alexa App to enable it. The game can be played by a single player or by a group of four, and there are three levels of difficulty: beginner, intermediate and advanced. I had previously completed Orientation and Mobility; I am now in my refresher course. I thought this game would be a breeze. I was wrong.

I found the beginner level quite easy to achieve the correct answers. The second level, intermediate, can be tricky for someone who has been in O and M if they are not paying attention to the question. 😊  The final level, advanced, is difficult in itself and I highly recommend the level for anyone who has completed their Orientation and Mobility training. I personally found that this game was difficult to navigate, and I do not think this will be on my top favorite games. However, I feel that the general public can learn a lot from this game, in the way of its content, even from the advanced level.

Please note, the game or any of the products I have mentioned has not been sponsored.

 

Failing at my Escalator review (Independent living skills series 23)

I woke up feeling sick and nervous because I felt like I have a lot on my plate. I quickly got dressed and was ready to go. However, I had to wait for the van; and it felt like it was never going to show up, but it did.

The part-time Orientation and Mobility teacher was not there, so the plans were to wait on one more student who was going to be late, and then leave as a group. A few minutes later the part-time teacher showed up. Because Pensacola was offering a wet and windy day my teacher and another classmate and I went to the mall.

My classmate had only a few Orientation and Mobility lessons before, so my teacher taught her about the basics of landmarks and mind mapping. Once that was done, we headed to Dillard’s, so we could practice riding escalators. My teacher gave instructions to my classmate, and with a little coaching my classmate did great.

Then it was my turn. As you have read in my previous posts I was gaining confidence with this skill, therefore it should have been a piece of cake for me. When I got up to the lip fear took a hold of me. I kept feeling the cane tip move, since my teacher had me swap canes with my classmate for a bit.

My teacher had to give me a lot of coaching and encouragement. “Come on, you’ve done this before,” she said as I stood at the top of the stairs. I shook my head no and backed up again. “Come on, I’ll make a video for your blog,” She said. Nothing she said seemed to help. A few members of the public came up to ask if I needed help. Of course, I just explained I was in a lesson. After a few more tries I finally did it.

We then walked around the men’s department and went back up the escalator. For me going up is easier than going down. This time my teacher had me swap our canes back to its proper owner. It felt good to get my cane back.

Since we were back at the top my teacher had me go first. Still I struggled. Oh, well at least I did do it eventually.

Then we went to do an elevator lesson. It was good to hear the lesson again as it helps reinforce what I had learned. The elevator lesson was quick and simple.

Once that was over we went to Newk’s. I had the half and half meal. I had my usual chicken salad sandwich, and for my side I had half a bowl of macaroni and cheese, and a pink lemonade to drink. I enjoyed my meal.

After lunch, we went back to the mall and did a drop off practice. While walking to our meeting place I stopped by HallMark so I could get a Christmas gift for a friend.

When I reached our meeting place my classmate and I chatted up a storm while we waited for our teacher.  When we were leaving, a member of the public saw us walking and started yelling, “I’m so sorry for you; God bless you.” Even though sometimes we educate the public on blindness and the fact that blindness does not ruin your life. I chose to ignore his comments.

Then we went outside and worked on sidewalk travel, two-point touch, and basic street crossing.

Even though I felt sad about not doing good with my review, I say I’ll conquer the escalators next time.

 

 

Heavy Traffic, Elevators and a Target Run (independent living skills series 22)

I woke up feeling sick, and it took a lot of effort to get going. Thank goodness for Cheerios and coffee. I got to school early; and the taxi ride was uneventful. During class announcements, I found out that we would be getting a new teacher for our daily living skills classes. i.e. cooking, managing a home, etc. I can not wait to get back into the kitchen. I had Orientation and Mobility again. Things are getting harder, as my teacher is upping the traffic flow and making my routes more difficult.

We started off at an area close to the center. Because I had not been at this intersection before I listened to the flow of traffic. I heard the cars go left, straight, stop, left again, and then straight again. I felt unsure of myself, so I listened to the flow of traffic once more. The third time the traffic started its pattern I was ready to cross; however, I missed my opportunity. I was clearly not on the top of my game. I had to wait again, and I had to wait a long time. I finally made it to the second crossing.

During the second crossing, I learned not to trust the crossing light because it was broken. I truly had to rely on my traffic signal to know when to cross. By the third crossing, I was feeling a little better and was able to cross with confidence.

When we got back into the car it was 11 O’clock. I was hungry! I was hoping some protein would help me perk back up. I really wanted a hamburger, and at first, we were planning on going to McDonald’s, but we changed our minds and we went to Tops. I ordered a cheeseburger, tater tots, and a coke.

The cheeseburger was twice the size of the one I would have gotten at McDonald’s. The extra lettuce, onions and tomatoes made it feel much healthier. The tater tots were so hot they burned my fingers; and they were also greasy.   My coke was smooth and tasty as it filled my mouth and slid down my throat. I was so thirsty that I couldn’t drink it fast enough. My lunch as a whole was only $6.00, and my meal gave me the energy I needed to finish my lesson in stride.

Once we finished our lunch we went to a bank. The lobby was filled with people as I navigated to find the elevator. I had to pay attention to the doors as it is normal for it to open to the side of the operating box. I did not like the feeling my stomach got when the elevator went up. I went up to the fourth floor, and then we went back down again. This time the elevator talked and announced each floor. This made it much easier to know what floor I was on. I was a star coming out of the elevator impressing my teacher and many onlookers. When I was leaving the building, I saw a lab puppy. Its fur was light in color and it was laying quietly by it’s raiser while we walked by. It was cute!

The last part of our lesson was going to Historic Downtown Pensacola. There was so much to see as I walked down the streets. There was an archaeological dig going on. Across the street was a school going on a tour about the slave house. I even saw a train. While I was crossing one road my teacher took a video of me crossing.

I even got to go to a gazebo where I practiced my ascending and descending technique for stairs.

On my way back to the car, I practiced compass directions. Believe me I still need help with this.

I learned how to assess my environment because there were so many cars parked along the road.  I felt so confident at the end of the lesson; and I really enjoyed seeing downtown.

Our last stop was Target. I got some shampoo, body wash, and another coke. I was so thirsty. We then went back to the school and we had an oral review, and I learned how to transfer while doing sighted guide.  It was a great day 😊

Mid-term reflection: pondering thoughts (independent living skills series 21)

Since it is October and I only have four more months until my scheduled graduation I decided to write a mid-term reflection.

I like my classmates and staff at school. I feel like the school lacks organization when it comes to getting students organized for their assigned lessons.  I wish the teachers would provide class syllabuses to help students keep track on what they are learning.

When I first started school, back in May, I was hesitant to cook and to travel on my own. I had limited knowledge about the Alexa Echo.

I now have a new sense of freedom. I now know how to look up recipes, check spelling of words, do math, get times and keep my shopping and To-Do lists up to date. I use my Alexa daily.

In the kitchen, I am able to cook simple meals and desserts. As well as, use my adaptive equipment to chop fruits and vegetables, check temperatures on a wide variety of meats, and how to confidently place and remove pans from a hot oven. I cook for myself more often, and enjoy new dishes. (Yum, baked eggplant 😊)

When it comes to my travel skills I am no longer afraid to cross streets with heavy traffic, use escalators and elevators and use alternative transportation. I feel like I can travel anywhere I want including traveling abroad. Over these past few months I have learned to have high expectations for myself; all this despite having Nystagmus.  I have positive friends who believe I can achieve my goals and dreams rather than to say I cannot achieve.  On top of all this, I have decided not to listen to the people who say, “No, you cannot you have a cane; or you are visually impaired,” I say to those people, I have confidence and independence now that I have all this training. Getting this confidence and independence did not just happen over night and it came with a lot of work on my part, however I am happy with who I am today.  I know what goals I want to achieve in the future.

Thank you everyone for your support; without you I would have never made it this far. I am looking forward to my graduation.

 

 

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.

Learning about Non-24 and Getting Some Stress Relief (independent living skills series 19)

It’s Tuesday, which means another lesson. It took all my strength to get out of bed and to get going. I felt so tired from my medicine from the dentist too.  I had my normal wait time and got to class way before our official start time. Instructors and classmates a like were late due to the pouring rain. Today’s class was going to be a little different because a guest speaker was going to be presenting information about a condition called non-24. I had heard of it from commercials on TV, and from YouTuber Joy Ross. I learned that non-24 is a medical condition that affects people who are either blind or legally blind who have little to no light perception. Because people who have this condition have little to no light perception their body clocks are off which affects their wake sleep cycle.

The way the nurse explained the condition and its symptoms helped me understand the condition as a whole. I was able to ask to get more information about it via phone and in the mail.

The students and staff were treated to Subway, tea and cookies for lunch.

Once lunch was over I had another Orientation and Mobility lesson. For me these lessons are beginning to feel like an old hat. I was still hungry; so, my teacher and I went through the drive through at McDonald’s, and I got fries and a Coke. It really hit the spot.  We then went to Target. While I shopped I saw the cutest dress, however I have a few dresses in my closet I have yet to wear. I am personally trying to work on mindfulness and thankfulness. I then went to the cosmetics and found a sample of lavender bath bombs. I wanted to give them a try, as I have heard, a few fellow YouTubers and bloggers do reviews of similar products. It was a great day.

I can not wait to graduate from the program and I feel ready to tackle my last objective: The Bus.