Today was my first day of mobility training. I guess I should back up a step and say that I went to the intake appointment with the Independent Living Resources
group that was made a long time a go. They are very nice people. In the course of the intake interview they said that it is great that things will be happening through OCB, but it seems as if it isn't happening quickly enough and they wanted to know if I would like to start mobility training with them until OCB can take over. I thought about it and said ok, then the woman called in the man who would be doing it and he said he could schedule me for the next morning (I was kind of like, "Woah, didn't see that coming"). They will also be helping me with learning braille, peer counseling, and advocacy when/if needed. They are able to get things started more quickly because they don't use a medical model of qualifying people for services. To be honest I don't understand the model, but will try to get a better understanding later. Parts of what went on were confusing without an interpreter that day.
So today was mostly about learning to be guided. It was kind of weird at first, but once you learn to trust the person doing the guiding it isn't too bad. Telling myself to trust Christopher and stop shuffling my feet was the hard part. But, once I did that I walked quicker. It was funny because he noticed that I was paying attention to his body language more I guess than most people, I could tell at one point that something was there that I should pay a little more attention to by his body language and I shuffled my feet and sure enough I found it. He showed me the way he moves his arms to indicate that we are at a curb or step and how to step up/down safely.
In future lessons we will work on things like when being guided, how to go through a narrow space and up/down stairs properly.
While I was given a cane today, the instruction for it was very rudimentary. But, enough to get started. I was shown how to open and close it safely and properly. And for use, just a very simply cross body method that involves no real movement of the cane. It allows for finding curbs and other things for now. He also showed me quickly how to use it help judge how far I was stepping down off the bus or finding the distance to the step onto the bus. He pointed out that if I stand with the cane in front of me while waiting for the bus the driver will see that and know to stop for me. That became very obvious when I used it today on the way home.
I used the cane on the walk back from the bus to the apartment and found that it does let me move a bit faster than shuffling my feet. And wondered how it much it will help once I really learn to use it. Someone tapped me on shoulder to let me know the light had changed when I was waiting to cross the street (this is a nice thing since I really can't see the walk lights and have to guess by other means).
It was just a first day, but while I didn't want to use the cane it is hard to say it didn't help.
On Monday I go back for more training and also will be doing some braille class. I've marked the keys to my dorm with a braille "I" and "O" for indoor and outdoor key, so I can tell the difference. It has helped a lot. Not that I know a lot of braille at this point, but have done some learning on my own, and they said I had a pretty good head start.
Guess that catches you up on that news for the day.