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Second Sense - Beyond Vision Loss

Catharine’s Story

Catharine is a Black woman with long flowing hair. She is wearing a pink blouse and holding her cane with a big smile.

Catharine Adds Mobility and Tech to Her Toolbox

Mobility Means Traveling Where You Want To Go

It is so easy to treat yourself to a great cup of coffee or that Pumpkin Spice Latte everyone is talking about when there is a coffee shop right on the corner. A short walk in the brisk fall weather. The sun shining on your face as you stroll down the familiar street.

That is, if you know there is a coffee shop on the corner. And, if you aren’t afraid you’ll fall or get lost.

That is a major benefit of our mobility training. We go to our client’s homes and teach them to travel to destinations they want to visit as they learn these vital skills. Catharine learned about her neighborhood coffee shop during her very first lesson. This simple discovery filled her with enthusiasm for learning. “It is a change from thinking travel is beyond me. Now I can look forward to learning how to do it and benefiting from its empowering effect on my life.”

That first lesson was one year ago. A move and a month-long hospital stay after brain surgery interrupted Catharine’s training. But, now she is back on track. She is learning her new neighborhood, finding a new coffee shop and learning how to walk different routes to her local grocery store.

This involved learning the fundamentals of crossing streets. First Catharine had to learn to analyze the crossing. This includes identifying the type of intersection — shape (T, Y, four-way), controlled (stop sign or stop light) versus uncontrolled, and any extra features like turning lanes and pedestrian cross walks. Then she had to learn where to cross, how to listen for traffic and to cross with blocker cars.
Catherine has also learned how to plan a route, use landmarks and then reverse the route to get home.

Next up is bus travel. Soon, she won’t have to rely on her 13-year-old son, her friends or the unreliable paratransit service to get where she wants to go. Thanks to your support!

Adding Tech

Most of clients want to learn more than one skill. And many get these lessons at the same time.

Catharine is one of these client. “I had an older android phone, but I just couldn’t navigate it. It didn’t have many accessibility options. Then, a friend told me that iPhones work better for visually impaired people.”

Catharine has a newer iPhone, but is just learning how to use it. She is working with Joe. They started with the basics: changing the accessibility settings and activating VoiceOver.

“The very first lesson, I learned how to unlock my phone. And we spent time practicing the finger swipe until I could do it correctly,” Catharine said. She spent the next two lessons practicing the different gestures — swipes, taps and touches. Then, she moved on to apps. “I learned how to take notes, use the calendar and make phone calls.”

Whatsapp, a free messaging and video calling app, is one of the first tools Catharine wanted to learn. She wanted to talk with her sister in France, as well as other family and friends. After she and Joe went through the steps to make a call, they spent time calling a select group of close friends and family. This way, these names show up under “recents” and Catharine has easy access to the numbers she calls most often.

Catharine finished her iPhone training in September. “I am still learning some new apps. Joe has given me the foundation, and I hope to continue to learn on my own.”