Crossing Busy Streets of Downtown Pensacola and riding Escalators (independent living skills series 10)

Once again, I was early for class. I was excited to finally have another lesson in Orientation and Mobility. But before my lesson, my classmates and I had a few minutes to catch up on how we were all doing; it was nice to hear that everyone was doing well and that everyone was eager for their lessons.

I was to have my lesson with the assistant Orientation and Mobility teacher. Before the lesson began I had some concerns that I wanted to address. I feel that my night blindness is fluctuating more than normal. This is concerning. Some nights I can see perfectly fine, other times I can see some lights and shadows, and on really bad days I can see nothing at all. This makes me feel sad especially since a classmate recently asked me about what I would do if my sight got worse. I really do not know what I would do if my sight would deteriorate. I guess I would just adapt to life. My second concern was the color of my sunglasses. I wear wrap-around style and the color of the lenses are light pink. Even though they are stylish and fit me well, they are not dark enough in this wonderful bright Florida sunshine. My teacher said she would watch for signs of distress during the lesson.

We quickly drove downtown. The first thing we reviewed was the use of landmarks, and environmental clues to help me establish my route.

I chose the fountain that was running, the post office sign and a restaurant. We quickly walked to our first intersection, and my teacher quizzed me on the terms: blended curbs, which is where the curb and the street blends together. Ascend, which means to go up a curb, and finally, descend which means to go down a curb. Once these key terms were established, we reviewed that when there is a strong traffic surge on my parallel side then it is okay to cross the street. However, if I am unsure then I need to wait for the next cycle. I walked down to the next block, then another. Each time I was growing in confidence compared to when I first had Orientation and Mobility lessons years ago.

As I walked to the next street I noticed that Pensacola has bumpy bricks and its tougher to walk smoothly until you get used to it. By now it was lunch time, so my teacher and I stopped by Subway. It was nice to get out of the hot Florida weather. It was even better getting my belly full with a meatball sub with spinach, green peppers, onions, and a little bit of salt and pepper. I got sour cream and onion chips, two cookies to take home, and I had a Dr. Pepper to drink.

After our bellies were full, we hit the streets again. My teacher taught me a lesson of how to line yourself up if the street and domes are not centered. I nailed my final street crossing, and my teacher said my skills were great; I should be able to cross any street anywhere.

We quickly headed back to the center to check back in. Once we were checked in we were told to continue our lesson so we headed to the mall. We walked about the mall so I could practice my search and location skills. As always, we started off with finding landmarks.

The store I wanted to find was Bath and Body Works. I found it quickly due to the fact that it has a fresh soap smell which is an environmental clue. I enjoyed looking at all the products they had to offer. From there we practiced ascending and descending stairs. The only correction my teacher had to give me was how to position my elbow when traveling the stairs. This is so I will not hurt myself.

Because I was feeling so confident, I just had to open my big mouth and say, “let’s go tackle my fear of escalators.” So off we went. Once I heard the noise of the steps, my confidence decreased. It lowered even more so when I saw the steps moving.

“Come on, Amanda. Bump, Bump, step up,” my teacher said. I was clearly fearful and kept backing away from the steps even after I had felt the steps move with my cane. “I just can’t. I’m fearful,” I said.

“Yes, you can. Bump, Bump. Step on. Don’t look at it, and hold on to the rail for balance,” my teacher said once again.

I continued to protest and be fearful. An employer came over to us to check on me. I explained that I was in a lesson for travel and that I was just lacking confidence in re-learning this new skill.

After this, I did step on, but not very gracefully. Once we were at the second floor, we went around to the second escalator. Once again getting on wasn’t much better. But at least I tried it. I’m really lacking confidence. The next time I have an Orientation and Mobility lesson my teacher and I are planning on doing another lesson on escalators. I hope with time I gain more confidence and am able to step on and get off with more ease.


Plans Change: Informal Pre-Employment Class (independent living skills series 7)

The van was late. I was anxious; and I was starting to snack on my favorite taco chips and Dr. Pepper. Because I was still upset I called an international friend in England. We chatted up a storm until the van came.

The ride to school was uneventful, and I was only 30 minutes late. When I got there, I put my lunch away and walked into the conference room. I was eager to get started with my Orientation and Mobility lesson. Come to find out, my teacher had to cancel my lesson.

Instead of going home, I asked the instructor if it was okay to stay for the pre-employment lesson. Today’s lesson was on resumes. The first type of resume we covered was functional and how we should use quantity and qualitative examples. We looked at a few examples and discussed why they were good examples.

Once that topic was discussed, we went on to a functional disability statement. I must admit I have a disability statement, however it never covered such topics such as: what my vision is like and what I can see, how I can complete tasks in my daily life such as getting around, cooking and using the computer, and allowing the employer to ask any other questions they may have by opening the conversation yourself.

By that time, I brought up the issue of employers not believing that my eye condition is not real or the fact that I am either drunk or on drugs.

My teacher is right when he says you must have thick skin, and sometimes people are just plain ignorant. He is right; when I get those kinds of interviews, just move on. It only takes one “Yes,” out of the hundreds of “No’s” I have received to achieve success.

Accessibility and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was our next topic. It is hard for me to believe that someone in human resources would have knowledge about the ADA.  That lead us onto the topic of being able to sell yourself with your assets such as keyboarding skills, how your personal technology works, ect.

The last thing we covered was the format of a chronological resume and some basic interview questions.

On the way home, beneath all the anger I felt about my job seeking journey, I thought about a story that my teacher told about a relative that had come to visit. This relative met one of my teacher’s friends who was blind and he got to learn the impact that my teacher had on this blind friend as a teacher. He gave the man the gift of independence by teaching him. I, myself, want to be as independent as possible. However, first I must figure out what that means to me.

Getting used to my new cane and tip (independent living skills series 6)

“Great, you brought your new cane; let me go get your pencil tip. I’ll be back in a minute,” my Orientation and Mobility instructor said, as I sat there eagerly waiting for my lesson to start.

Once she returned with the pencil tip, I decided against it. That was because I am a medium traveler and I need more tactile information. Because I did not like the marshmallow tip, and because Ambutech does not provide the type of tip I am currently using, my teacher introduced me to a tip called Ceramic. It’s small and has a rubber band around part of it. With this tip I get excellent audio and tactile information.

Because I needed to get used to my new cane and tip, another classmate and I went outside to walk in the grass. For me, I do not like to walk in the grass because sometimes my tip gets stuck. Once we were done with that, my teacher, classmate and I headed for the mall. The mall has laminate floors which made it hard to sweep my cane. My teacher noticed that my arch was to wide and had to correct me.

Another thing was I had to get used to my new cane. It’s like trying on a new pair of boots, you have to break them in. During my time at the mall, we came across some stairs. We worked on how to go up and down. I learned to descend; I can sweep my cane for feedback before going down. To ascend the stairs you are to bump your cane against the front of the step then step up.

After our lesson, we got a snack, and headed back to the center for lunch; It was nice to relax and to give my wrist a break.

Once lunch was over, my teacher, another classmate and I went back to the mall. This time the walk was smoother. I’m sure in a few weeks I will be adjusted to my new cane and tip. The only thing left is to name my cane; just for a joke…I shall call him Paddington Freedom.

Happy International Day of Peoples with Disabilities

Hi Blog world,

Today, December 3, is International Day of Peoples with Disabilities. According to the United Nations website, their goal is to help people with disabilities stay included in society and to educate the public about people with disabilities. I believe that everyone should have a right to a fair education and should be included in society no matter what their disability is. I also believe that educating the public is a good way to end stigma that sometimes is associated with people with disabilities.

To learn more about this day or the United Nations please visit:

Blog soon,

Amanda Gene

What are your favorite YouTube channels?

Hi Blog world,


As I was looking for ideas to write about today, I came across this question, and since I’m still on Unemployment island I watch a lot of YouTube channels. Here’s a list of the top five channels that I watch on a daily basics.


  1. iiSuperwomanii this channel is run by a very talented woman named, Lilly Singh, I like here channel because of the funny comedy videos that she produces every Monday and Thursday. He content makes me laugh and reminds me to stay positive.

Here’s the link to Lilly’s channel:


  1. Gone to the Snow Dogs, is a fun-loving all around dog channel, that features humans Jessica, and Jamie and their three adorable dogs: Shelby, Memphis and Oakley. I love their channel because they give me ideas for my dog Duke. They do treat videos, training videos, and other fun related dog topics.

Here’s the link to Gone to the Snow Dogs:


  1. As mentioned on my “How has 2017 been…January” I watch Cherry Wallis , who like me loves Harry Potter and Makeup. I love her Harry Potter hauls and her craft ideas that are Harry Potter themed.  Watching her do Makeup tutorials are a lot of fun too.

If you haven’t already done so you can check out her channel by clicking the link below:


  1. Another YouTuber that I really enjoy watching is the amazingly funny, but yet he provides great information about Britain, Even Edinger. I found his videos by accident one day when I went searching YouTube for information about Britain, ever since I clicked on one of his videos I’ve been coming back for more.

Click here to check out his channel:


  1. Last and not certainly least is the fun, and honest Molly Burke. She has an amazing positive attitude towards life, and I love how she helps educate the public in funny, yet down to earth ways, about blindness.  These videos make me want to continue to smile even more everyday even though I face many challenges as someone who also has a visual impairment.

Click here to find Molly’s latest video:


Please take note readers, this blog post was not sponsored by YouTube or any of the YouTubers that I have mentioned above.

Birthday Road Trip: New Orleans

Hi Blog world,

On the 20th of March, my friend and I hit the road for my 28th birthday. I have to admit I had no clue where we were going; and having to wait two weeks made me even more excited.

We drove and drove for what seemed like miles. I knew what state we were in from land marks from previous trips, but I kept guessing as to where we were going. My friend wouldn’t say as to where our final location would be.

Finally, she asked me to get the yellow bag from the back seat….We were headed to New Orleans. I couldn’t be more excited, and I called my best friend to let her know.

We drove until we needed to make a pit stop. We both got candy and soda. A real treat for me. We kept driving until we made it to New Orleans. We stopped for Chinese for lunch. It was good. After lunch, we drove what seemed like more ongoing hours to the city. Once there this city girl had a lot to take in.

There where people walking everywhere, Taxi bikes, trolleys, and horses with carriages. With all the hustle of people, it took an hour of driving around to find a place to park; yet, along the way, there where people, beads, New Orleans charm in houses, and even cool cop cars to look at.

We finally found a public place to part at a hotel. We then hit Bourbon St.

On Bourbon St.
On Bourbon St.

It was like one big party with people coming and going in every direction, shops and bars had their windows and doors wide open to welcome people. The smells of food and of cigarettes filled the air as my friend and I made the way through the crown down to the street corner. Snap! I got my picture taken; and I quickly sent it to my grandpa.

We looked around at all the shops-I was looking for something special to remember this day. So far I found nothing special. Never the less, the day wasn’t over. To be honest, all I really wanted was a drink because I was so hot.  After we had gotten a drink. We made one more stop at a souvenir shop where I got a key chain and a postcard.

Then it was time to leave the city, and head back home. When we got back home I was buzzing with excitement with stories of my first big city adventure. However, my friend had one more surprise for me; a T-Shirt.

Blog Soon,

Amanda Gene