Well today I had yet another exciting mobility lesson with Elaine; and I do mean exciting, and nerve-racking to say the least. Today was yet another “Trust the Cane” exercise, this time at a local mall; but not to worry it was not too crowded on a Wednesday afternoon, so people were not the main issue at hand.
We entered and she instructed me to make my way to the mall center court with perfect cane technique… no problem. We stopped and discussed the finer points of using the directory to locate stores. She pointed out that our local mall directory is not that well thought out, in that they only direct you to a section where a store is located, the stores on the map itself are not individually labeled.
She instructed me to note my location, and I can sight the large store signs of the main stores, with minimal trouble. Landmarks where always a strong point for me, this is not an issue. I would rather travel by landmark then direction. We then continued and made our way to Boscov’s… Entered and I was instructed to locate the stairs and escalators. – Oh yes, we know what is coming now!
At the stairs, we reviewed cane technique and what the cane can tell you about the stairs. The treads height, depth, and width; all good things to know. Is the step high, or low? Wide or narrow? Is their carpeting or are they solid.
Transferring the cane to my left hand to hold the railing with my right. You hold the cane about mid shaft, with the thumb down arm extended out and elbow locked. Resting your cane on the second step you push outward for each step up you take so the cane “clicks” each step in front of you… When you reach the top, the cane will swing away, with no click… This is how you know you have reached the top, or a landing.
Oh but wait, we have even more fun. Because after you go up, you must come down!
This is by far one of the most nerve-racking experiences any person who is blind or can’t see well DREADS; taking a header down a flight of steps. I am no different, going up is not the problem, it’s going down!
Again, a technique. Locate the edge and feel the cane drop. FEEL THE EDGE WITH YOUR FOOT. I missed it the first time! CRAP! – I feel like Wile Coyote on the edge of a cliff!
After locating the edge, the cane is transferred to the left hand again to hold the rail with the right. Extending the cane out and slightly down like a spear, you take your step holding the cane just above the passing steps. You walk down until you feel the cane hit, you have one more step, and you are at your landing.
Are we having fun yet?
Oh wait; yes, we are going to have LOADS of fun now! Here come them blinder glasses again. Now we do it all again. BLIND! – CRAP, CRAP, CRAP! The adrenaline level went from OK I am fine with this to WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING in one second flat.
Being extra careful, and moving extra slow. I made my way back up the steps. Turned and made my way back down slowly. And up and down about a dozen more times like this. With Elaine always by my side, if I did manage to miss a step; how ever it did not make me feel any better.
We finished this lesson on the steps, removed them damn glasses and made our way back out of the mall. What a fun day! NOT! I wonder what we will do next week?
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- Orientation and Mobility: SEPTA Regional Rail – Part 1 
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