Tuesday, 9 July 2013

MOBILITY: A BENEFICIAL SKILL FOR THE BLIND

Getting around in a big city is something people do without much thought. But imagine traveling without being able to see street signs and bus numbers. This is the challenge millions of sight-impaired people tackle daily.

Mobility, the skill of navigating city streets, is valuable to blind people. With increasing opportunities for employment, knowing how to catch busses and other forms of transit is vital for living independently.

Though I now live in a tiny hamlet, I still use mobility skills whenever somebody drives me to the city. What I learned in Calgary, Alberta during a two-week-long course at the CNIB still helps me find addresses and bus routes.

Sight-impaired people such as myself have difficulty when it comes to asking for directions. The fear many of us have is that some fully-sighted person will take advantage of us. I've found that practically every person is more than willing to lend a hand. Each legally-blind person, myself included, needs to set pride aside and ask for assistance when we need it.

But people such as myself haven't always been encouraged to travel independently and ask for help when we need direction. At Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind, where I spent six lonely years, mobility was rarely taught and even when it was, only totally blind kids were given lessons. Nobody taught us how to cross busy streets, with or without a white cane. Neither were we permitted to go to the nearby store alone. Everybody went in a group with a supervisor like prisoners on a day pass.

Little wonder then that I had a rough time when I was mainstreamed into the regular public school. I had no idea how to catch a bus or cross a busy street. Nobody taught me how to call the transit number for directions on which bus to take and at which times it came. Thanks in part to that course in Calgary, I grew bold about going to new places on the busses.

I wrote about my time at the blind school in Deliverance from Jericho Read more about this memoir of life in a government-run institution at my books link. It's at the top left hand corner of this page.

I also have a new book called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.\