Riding Escalators, trying Barbecue Chicken Wings, and learning to pour liquids (independent living skills series 13)

The van was actually on time, and I was on time for class. I was early enough to talk with my classmates. Soon we all gathered in the conference room to be assigned our lesson for the day. I, along with another student, was assigned to an Orientation and Mobility lesson. I had worked with this classmate before and she told my teacher and I that she felt better with me coming along because I was willing to do the lesson first.

My classmate lacked confidence with riding escalators, and I wanted to be sure I was 100 percent confident that I could go on and off with ease, because of this, we asked our teacher if we could do a lesson on escalators. Since I had a few lessons before my teacher decided to go to a different location than the one I had previously went to.

Once I saw the moving stairs and heard the sound of the escalator I lost my confidence. My teacher took it slow and getting on was easy. I really need to get some grace when it comes to getting off. Going up is easier for me than coming down; my guess is because of my depth perception and balance. I still went down the escalator though. Then it was my classmates turn. She was nervous, but I am proud that she faced her fears.

Because our nerves were so shot we went to Starbucks. I had a cookie and a sweet peach tea. My classmate had a piece of cake and a sweet peach tea, while our teacher had a coffee. We enjoyed our snacks, and headed back to the center. When we got there, we followed the smell of garlic to the kitchen. Come to find out another one of our classmates had been baking Barbecue chicken wings and had been making a side salad.

The chicken and salad were tasty. A classmate and I tried a tangy avocado dressing. The dressing really complimented our salad quite well.

Once our meal was eaten and the dishes were cleaned and put away I worked on learning how to pour hot and cold liquids.

I feel more confident with how to pour liquids now. However, I am starting to question my future. Being visually impaired can be quite expensive. So I asked my teacher about ways to save for the future. The simple answer is to start a savings account just for my equipment that is related to my disabilities. How do you guys save for equipment? Is there a special program or organization that can help? Tell me in the comments below.

I am not sure what my next lesson will be on. It is a mystery.

What I did today. My classmate took this photo.

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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.

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.

 

Basic Bus Skills (independent living skills series lesson 4)

Today, because of the threat of a tropical depression, my Orientation and Mobility teacher and I decided to do a short lesson on basic bus skills.

Before we even started the lesson, outside of the bus station was a beautiful flower on a bush; It was really pretty, and it had a nice smell. Once that was over, we walked into the bus terminal. My teacher gave me information on the prices of tickets, passes (which I have), and how to purchase them.  Then she gave me a brief orientation to the terminal itself.

We went outside and that’s when the hard work began. We watched as all the buses lined up for the next departure. My teacher explained that even though the columns were labeled, I should always check with the driver to make sure I was getting on the correct bus.

The sidewalk was noisy because of the buses and the crowd of people who gathered around waiting for their rides. It was a little disorienting at first, but I soon got use to the noise.

Once the buses left, my teacher and I walked the sidewalk to see how long it was. All that was left was getting a rider’s guide. We reviewed the guide over brunch.

I’m excited to actually take the bus next time. I am really gaining skills and feeling more confident.

In this picture I’m smelling a flower. #Flower #Florida #orientation #mobility #lesson

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Echo Dot and Orientation and Mobility (independent living skills series lesson 2)

The nervousness has died down quite a bit since I’ve gotten over my first lesson.

Today I had assistive technology and Orientation and Mobility lessons. The first lesson of the day was an introduction of the Amazon Echo Dot. I learned how to address it, some basics of what the dot could do such as set reminders, multi-timers, to-do lists, read audio books and play music.

I was able to practice asking questions, setting lists and reminders. Another part of the lesson that was useful was a brief over view about the application that goes along with it. It really is a neat device, and I’m excited to learn more.

After a quick lunch, I had a short Orientation and Mobility lesson. We worked on crossing light-heavy traffic and upper protective protection technique. My teacher was happy that I knew the basics of upper and downward curbs, as well as some basic parallel traffic crossings. I am already gaining more confidence. I can’t wait for the next lesson.

 

The cane debate

Hi Blog world,

I’ve noticed that many people have been talking about The cane debate, so I wanted to weigh in on this. I myself, am a white cane user, and I believe that if someone has a visual impairment, and they have gotten approval from a doctor and proper training they should be able to use their cane.

Another part of this debate is what color should the cane be. For me personally, I don’t use a cane that matches what I’m wearing, I use a long white cane. Even though, I have seen videos where people explain that they have several cane’s that match different outfits.

I have had training from an orientation and mobility teacher from my local independence living center for the blind and visually impaired. The training helped me with my confidence when traveling.

How do you feel about people using a cane to get around? Tell me in the comments below.

Blog soon,

Amanda Gene

Update

Hi Blog world,

Since it has been a while since I updated, I thought it was time to let you guys know what was going on.  First I have been very busy with school and that’s why I haven’t blogged. I am now on Christmas break and I should be able to blog more. I get my grades tomorrow and I am very nervous about it.  All of my friends and family keep telling me to keep positive so that’s what I am trying to do.

Even though, I said I was planning on graduating in the summer, that date has been changed to next December because of one of my internships and a new test requirement with my minor. After the spring term, I should only have three more classes to take. I am still excited about graduating though! 🙂

I have also been working hard with my white cane training, this past lesson my teacher and I had a lesson on what type of clothes you can wear for a job interview. We are also working on how to give directions in case someone asks. I am still planning on graduating from the program in February. Our next lesson is going to be on escalators.

In other news, Noodles, my dog, turned 14 this month. For her birthday she got some treats and a new bed cover.  She had a great birthday getting spoiled!

I am also getting ready for Christmas but I still have a few more things left to do before the big day.

Blog  soon,

Amanda Gene