Laura has two small children. Like any mother, she wants to make sure they get to school safely.
But, her vision loss made walking unsafe for her and her children.
Laura started working with Rachael, one of our mobility instructors, in April.
“In the beginning, it was really hard, “ Laura said. “It was just panic — feeling unsafe. But now, after lots of practice, I learned how to use the cane. Now I feel comfortable and safe.”
Rachael worked with Laura, teaching her the techniques to read the information the cane is providing about Laura’s environment. Where the sidewalk ends and the grass begins. Where the incline and truncated domes indicate the curb to the street. Where any cracks in the sidewalk, or other obstacles, need to be avoided.
Laura practiced these skill while walking the route from her home to the neighborhood school. She learned the street crossings, landmarks and potential hazards. Rachael also made sure Laura learned an alternate route, just in case.
Once Laura was comfortable traveling this route alone and with her children, she was ready for the next goal. Laura wanted to help her family understand how to help her. So, her husband learned how to act as a sighted guide.
Then it was her sisters’ turn.
“My sisters help me a lot. But, sometimes they don’t know how to help. They don’t know when to help and when not to help. I know it is hard for them.”
So Rachael spent a few hours with Laura’s sisters teaching them the Human Guide technique. This training shows the sighted partner how to guide the person with vision loss in a way that makes both feel safe.
She even had Laura’s sisters practice with a blindfold to better understand how it feels to work with a guide. Especially the difference between the guide grabbing their arm to push them forward and holding the guide’s arm to follow the guide’s movements.
“They were so excited to learn how to help. Rachael gave lots of details. Now they know why they can’t put me in front.”