Mobility Training (definition) : A blind or visually impaired person finally realizing that you can be totally independent and do whatever yoy want with a few simple tools: A mobility cane, a sense of direction… or compass, and the ability to ASK for help.
I thought there was going to be some magic trick or secret to all the questions I had about mobility. What is the secret to crossing the street? What is the secret to grocery shopping without vision?? How do I know what bus is in front of me?
I sat down with my mobility instructor and told her what was important for me to learn. I wanted to know how to cross the street safely, how to get around on public transportation, how to navigate the airport, and how to grocery shop!
With my cane in hand, I learned how to watch the traffic patterns of the busiest intersections. I learned to always walk at the start of the surge of traffic. I learned what bus lines were around me and where their routes were. I navigated the Transit Center, where the buses, shuttles and light rail all meet. We traveled up and down streets in the blaring heat at all hours of the day. We went through the grocery store and I asked for help upon arrival, it was EASY! Who knew? When I walked onto the bus, I would confirm the bus number and ask for them to notify me when we arrived at my stop. I sat in the front… cane in hand.
I traveled by bus, then light rail then sky train to the airport. I followed the masses of people sweeping my cane to be aware of what was ahead. I went up and down escalators and even picked up the pace when I got on the moving sidewalks.
I made sure to be aware of my surroundings; where was I going? Who was around me? Am I on the street or sidewalk? Concrete or brick?
So 6 weeks later, and a little more confident, I was put to the test. My instructor told me we would drive to a location, she would DROP ME OFF and I would meet her at a location selected by her. Ummm…ok. Is this Survivor?? My training class was at 6 am so I wasn’t even in the right state of mind! I didn’t even drink coffee!! WAIT!!! Haha. So I started counting streets and thought I knew where I was until she drove into a neighborhood that I swear was to confuse me. We pulled into a parking lot and I said I have no idea where we are…She told me I would be fine and I should meet her at the airport…AIRPORT??? I have been there ONCE! Where are my notes? Oh yeah.. I didn’t take any. Ooops. So there I stood on the intersection of two streets and had no idea where I was. Instantly, a guy walked up to me and asked if I was ok. Did I look that bad?? I asked him what intersection we were at, thanked him and crossed the street. My mind was racing into a game plan and I did it!! You totally forget with all the craziness that happens in the world that there are SO many nice people! Everyone was willing to help and even asked if I was heading in the right direction. It was empowering!!!!!
Then I learned the secret. You have to ASK for help! With a mobility cane, others understand why you are asking for help, respect your space and might even help you out…if you ask!