Sometimes you just have to wait on busses while doing O and M. I missed Athens public transit by a hair. I saw it leave as I stopped at the multimodal station. Still waiting … this route only runs to the mall every hour… luckily I found how to get to the Classic Center from the Multimodal Station. So I do know where my graduate school orientation is located. Maybe it would be better if I just take an uber to the mall….
As an aside for those who are new to the blog, I just realized I keep mentioning the phrase “Orientation and Mobility” or “O and M” (especially in the previous post) a lot so I thought I would write a little blog post about it…so please skip this post if you know what O and M is (probably because I explained it or mentioned it a couple of months ago…). I also apologize in advance because some of these things may be a bit redundant. I am also going to go back to Athens today (07/27) to continue O and M so why not write about it? Anyways lets get into it…
I. A brief note about the last post
The previous post that shows video clips of my mom and I discussing a landmark in the car is a really laid back example of orienting myself to campus. It’s a bit more difficult to record during O and M lesson because I really need to learn where I’m suppose to go. Plus I would rather pay attention to where I’m walking so these videos will do. Maybe I will be able to record my routes for going to class in the near future (comment if you are interested/let me know if it sounds a bit silly).
II. What is Orientation and Mobility?
Orientation and Mobility is usually for those who are blind or visually impaired in order to get from point A to point B independently and safely. Some people who are visually impaired or blind use white canes or guide dogs to navigate. Some people can get away reading signage using a monocular. Others can get away with using nothing. It’s all personal preference and comfort level. There are usually certified O and M instructors that help you either orient to new places, teach you how to cross streets safely, take public transportation… it all really depends on what you need.
III. My introduction to O and M
I was 13 and almost got hit by a car in a parking lot (and i definitely didn’t see it.). I also had the tendency to run across the street when ever I heard a car coming towards me. I was then evaluated to see if I actually needed O and M. I will add that because I’m considered on the more moderate side of visually impaired, O and M was something that most people would not have considered it important for me. However this was 10 years ago and times change… I was very reluctant to miss school when I was 13 and I really did not want to go to O and M. Learning how to cross streets safely and using public transportation was my main goal. Good thing I eventually decided to miss class time during high school because I was able to travel alone across the country or abroad. When I started undergrad at Emory University it was important for me to learn the college campuses (both at Oxford and Main Campus).
IV. Why do you continue to use it?
Now I am learning the University of Georgia (UGA) and Athens. I move August 6th and I start classes on the 14th. It seems that in graduate school people just give you the building address and let you find it on your own. It’s a bit harder when you’re visually impaired so I try to take advantage of O and M services when I can. Also UGA is a huge campus. When I went to check out the school in March after I was accepted as a student for MA in French Linguistics w/ a teaching assistantship. Most of my fellow students were worrying about where they are going to live and I worried about where I was located. I remember telling myself that I needed to learn parts of UGA before I left in order to make my transition to graduate school smoother. I am learning bus routes from my on campus apartments to Gilbert Hall (where the department of Romance languages is located) and some other buildings such as the student center, the health center, the bookstore, the library and some others. I hope that I will be able to also learn the public transit so I can go to the mall or go shopping for groceries. There are not trains in this college town, however I will be able to use the public transit because it is covered in my student fees.
V. My preferences
I prefer to use a white cane outdoors (or when I travel alone) for several reasons. I usually joke around that I’m a “selective cane user” meaning I only use it during situations where I know I need it. When I am outside the cane really does help me out for these reasons: a) it (supposedly) warns drivers, bikers, and other pedestrians that I am visually impaired, b) my functional vision outdoors is compromised by my photophobia (light sensitivity) so I know I cannot rely on it to get around, c) I actually get some more tactile information from my cane using a constant contact technique (cane is constantly touching the ground while I move it from side to side with a rolling tip) so I actually don’t trip (in my case on flat surfaces. As an aside, just because I happen to use a white cane doesn’t mean that will work for all people with my condition. I know a lot of PWA who use white canes and guide dogs, and just as many who use nothing.
I know this is a bit long, so please comment if you have any questions. :)