On The Move Again

Spring is almost here and with it comes warmer temperatures, little league and pro baseball, and better opportunities to get out and about. As the COVID pandemic seems to be waning, so opportunities for us to get up and get moving again are growing. In fact, that’s motivation behind a national effort for attaining better physical fitness and wellness.

You can find more information about that here. https://www.acb.org/get-moving-campaign-out-isolation-full-inclusion-independence

Perhaps, the encouragement to get up and get moving again spawned this article on mobility assistance by Maxiaids which you can find here. https://www.maxiaids.com/mobility-issues-you-can-keep-moving

So what helps you do mobility? The Chicago Lighthouse’s blog, Sandy’s View, discusses some basic ways in which we navigate streets, sidewalks, friends’ houses, and shopping malls:

  • “The white cane helps people who are blind or severely visually impaired know when there are tripping hazards such as cracks, poles, etc. The cane is swept from side to side to clear one’s path from these and other obstacles. Other techniques allow us to know when we’ve reached a crosswalk or the entrance to a room. The white cane also signals to drivers that the pedestrian about to cross the street is visually impaired.
  • Guide dogs are service animals that have received special and extensive training to guide blind and visually impaired individuals. These dogs guide their handlers around obstacles and can also help find things like entrances, escalators and elevators. It is up to the handler to tell the dog where to go – it is only there to lead the person and help him or her arrive safely to the desired destination.
  • A sighted (or human) guide is probably the simplest of all the methods, and is the proper way of assisting someone who may need help getting somewhere. A blind person is guided by someone else by holding on to their arm. This method is preferred by some of us when in unfamiliar places or if there are large crowds.”

In addition, some travelers use echolocation to. By clicking the roof of their mouth with the tongue, they can sense the reverberation bouncing off walls or a building’s outside overhang to determine where they are and if obstacles stand in their way. Sometimes, we speak of hearing a building next to us as we tap our cane on concrete or the tile floor. Guide dog users, too, can hear when a wall muffles sound or an opening permits it.

Here in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Glenbrook Square is our only indoor mall. After browsing books in Barnes and Noble,  I needed to get from there to the TMobile outlet. So after getting directions from a passer-by, I maintained my line of travel while listening for people traffic to cross in front of instead of just beside me. Even my footsteps grew louder and my cane’s tap-tap-tap sounded more hollow. I knew then to walk at a forty-five degree angle left to find the store’s entrance. Of course, my cane’s tip struck those lovely kiosks and random tables along the way until I stood in TMobile’s entrance.

Every one of us prefers one method over others. Social media and journal articles alike promote the advantages and disadvantages of each. Readers of this blog who are sighted can appreciate the way a blind friend or relative gets around by learning more about each mode of traveling more in depth than space allows this summary goes. If that particular someone struggles with confidence in his or mobility, encourage them to explore the options. None of them are better or worse than another, though cane and dog usage will allow more freedom to navigate independently than will depending on sighted guide over a longer period of time.

It’s this subject of orientation and mobility that gives rise to this blogs motto: Navigating Life’s Contours. One day shortly after I began dating her,  Amy, who now is my wife, she  dropped me off to meet the bus while she drove another direction to attend a class meeting. Let’s just say I traveled a good eight feet before realizing I was angled well away from the bus bench at the corner of Troost and 51st in Kansas City, MO. I had to angle back to reorient myself while the bus pulled up.

Later on the phone, Amy asked why I was having trouble getting where I needed to go. I said that I needed to have better contours when finding my way at that street corner.

Isn’t that true in our daily lives? Whether navigating a street corner or following the links on a website, finding those touchpoints that help us know where we are keep us focused on where we are going.

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