The Perfect Focus

Finding focus in a blurry world…

Orientation and Mobility: Anatomy of an Intersection

Well hello readers… First, let me apologize… Though my mobility lessons are on Wednesdays, it seems impossible for me to find the time to sit down and write a post about them in the middle of the week. – Sorry.

On we go…

The anatomy of an intersection is something most sighted people give little thought about. But for a person who cannot see well there are many things that need to be taken into consideration.

Intersection SignIs the street one-way or two, what type of intersection is ahead, what shape is it, how is it controlled, stop sign or stoplight, does traffic even stop at all? Not to mention, what street am I on… Man, that’s a lot of things to remember!

Elaine and I set off in a quiet part of town to work on crossing skills. At the curb, we survey the anatomy of the intersection… It was a 4-way stop, near a school. We know this because I could identify stop signs on all four corners. And, besides, the stop sign on the corner we where standing on was marked “4-Way Stop“.

We identified the street name from the sign… Not as easy as it sounds, because I must be almost directly under the sign to read it; and if there is no sign on the corner I am on, I can’t read others around me with out first crossing to go look.

We noted landmarks around us, and the direction of the street from the position of the sun in the sky. (I knew watching Bear Grylls would come in handy some day!). But really I knew this from my grandmother as a child. The sun rises in the East, and sets in the West… If it’s after noon, and the sun is at your back, you’re facing East. – It should be noted, I am not a directional traveler, I prefer landmarks, I’m also really bad with names! (Quite the pickle isn’t it?)

We walked around the block, identifying the streets and their intersections, and how they where controlled, and listened to the different flow of traffic on the different streets, some where busier then others.

We did another round, around the block this time with them fabulous blinder glasses on so I could not see any thing. I’m starting to get use to this now, so it was not so bad, or so I thought. As I made my way around the block totally blind with my cane, I identified open areas and driveways by feel of the cane, and sound, (open areas just sound different, try it some time). I identified each curb until…

Warning StripThe dread of any blind person… Elaine swiftly saying STOP! – I froze… What did I do, I was still on the sidewalk, I had felt no curb… WRONG, I was two steps in the street! The curb at one of the corners was very flat and blended into the street; I felt no bump… If you’ve ever wondered why new curbs have them bumpy Lego looking things, that’s why… So blind people can tell there is a ramp for wheelchairs, and they are about to step into the street. This is exactly how many blind people are hurt or killed… We finished the rest of our walk with out trouble. My heart beating slightly faster then normal!

We then moved to crossing the street… With cane in hand, we locate the edge of the curb and hold the cane across the body to make it more visible to drivers. We LISTEN to the traffic, did they stop? Is there no sound at all? In this part of my training as Elaine has instructed me, we wait for “ALL QUIET“… meaning we hear absolutely NO traffic in any direction. We step off (as always in step with the cane) and cross the street… We find the far curb, and step up.

We reviewed the 5-point look… (Mom always says to look both ways, Elaine says look 5, I trust the mobility lady!) Where as you look left, forward, right, behind, and then left again, before you step off… And the points of danger as we cross, for most crossings this is the middle or second lain of traffic; as it is the most likely place to get hit from cars coming from any of three directions, cross traffic, and turning traffic.

For a sighed person it’s as simple as seeing traffic, and the stop sign, or the polite driver that waves you on to cross. But I can’t see those things. I can’t see drivers in their cars, I can’t tell if they will wait for me, or run me down. I can’t always see cars turn signals; I have particular trouble with people who like to turn on red.

In all, this lesson was basic, and I did remember most of this from the orientation and mobility training I received in school. I do need to pay more attention to street names and my direction. Despite the fact it was only around the block, I managed to forget the name of my starting street, but recognized the landmarks we picked.

Till next time! Please as always feel free to leave your comments!

I need my edumacation…

I have been trying to avoid the subject of education, as it is a VERY hot topic for me. It infuriates me to no end, how a simple few (the local school board) play and bicker like the children they cannot control in their own district. – They are like incessant whining children who throw temper-tantrums; until they get their way, and voters give in to simply shut them up.

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  • Filed under: Personal
  • That Kind of Week

    Well it has not been THAT bad, but you know the kind of week you just don’t feel like doing any thing? I have a sports poster I need to make for a client, and I’ve been going over in my head of what I want my judo students to do for promotions.

    Last weeks Orientation and Mobility was canceled because of bad weather, and for this week it is likely to be canceled as well, we have 4-inches of fresh snow outside at this moment. What a bummer.

    My judo students as of late have been off the wall… No concentrating one bit. Not seeming to care that promotions are only ONE WEEK away. No one is going for a particularly high rank; the highest being from Yellow+Orange Stripe to Solid Orange Belts, and all others are lower; and a few first timers. (The kids are aged from 7 to 12).

    Even Sensei Fred got in on some action, yelling at a student in the middle of class. It’s rare I see him yell, but man… The concentration factor for the past few weeks has been the pits! I guess I’m just too soft.

    The PA State Judo Championships are March 14th, and training will soon pick up, for my students and myself. Though I really don’t feel like fighting, I should. I will likely have to loose about 6 or 7 pounds to get down to my fight weight of 65kg (145lbs); that should not be too hard.

    In other news, I did manage to find a photo of our friend Andre on the Getty Wire Service photo archive from the 2008 Paralympic Games. Andre fights for the USA Blind Judo Team, and is a good friend of ours at the judo club; he comes to train with us some times.

    Andre Watson

    Andre Watson, Image Copyright Getty 2008

    I managed to send the photo to Coach Marc, Team Leader for the USA Paralympic Blind Judo Team (whom we know from Andre); to which I get the always-prodding e-mail reply of… “Just think, in 4-years you could represent the United States in London. It would be a shame to see your judo talent go unrewarded.

    Well, yes… Most normal people would say GO FOR IT are you NUTS… But we do still have that travel anxiety we’re working on, remember? And to be honest… I don’t know why he thinks I’m that good… It’s not like I compete every month… Then there is that little thing about qualifying for the team first they forget to tell you about.

    The fact is there are very few visually impaired judo players in the United States; and when one comes along, the coaches do every thing in their power to try and snatch us up. So, as much as I’d like to cross the pond; I think I need to take some smaller steps first.

    Your comments are always welcome. And I will likely be posting a little more information about Blind Judo in the future, even the process of becoming a Paralympic Judo player, if you’d like to know.

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  • Filed under: Judo, Personal