Post Title: 3 Steps to Maintaining Better Mobility.
Life is never stagnant for anyone. We are forced to adapt in relationships, in age-related challenges as well as psychological and physical changes. Even when we don’t have drastic fluctuations to attend to, we still have to continuously adapt in minor ways. Individuals handle it differently.
Anyone who struggles with low vision, macular degeneration, or any other sudden or degenerative eye condition, has to look at lifestyle, and what he or she wants to accomplish. Age, health and even where we live can impact our decisions.
For many, especially the younger population coping with low vision, or a progression of their condition, the need to add alternative methods of orientation and mobility among the repertoire of tools is high on the list.
Even those who have faced the big WCT (White Cane Training). Yes. That includes me. We may believe that completing the momentous Orientation and Mobility training has set us up for life.
We would be wrong.
Especially considering our environments are rapidly changing.
INDEPENDENCE REQUIRES A THOROUGH SELF ASSESSMENT.
When I finished my Orientation and Mobility Training more than a decade ago, my new skills and confidence carried me down the road and into shops.
After the uncertainty and the many near accidents I experienced, having a white cane changed my outlook—from bleak to blessed.
Not that my uncertainties disappeared completely, but I could manage them. Now that I had a white cane, I could seek help without feeling I had to explain myself.
But as time passed and I neared my ten-year mark, a gradual feeling of overwhelm replaced my calm. (see the Facing Super Center Stress post). If I needed something at Walmart, I used to bribe my brother to come in with me. “If you help me find xyz, I will buy you lunch.”
If that didn’t work, I would argue, “Help me! Don’t be despicable!” I figured it would serve me better to treat him to a meltdown in advance rather than experience one by myself in the store. I was banking on him one way or another.
Ever been there?
I also noticed I tasked my brother to doing the grocery shopping whenever possible. The persistent discomfort told me I needed to pursue more training.
STEP ONE: IS MAINTAINING MY INDEPENDENCE WORTH THE EFFORT?
I don’t have all the answers but for me, still in my late 50s, I knew I had to find the energy to move forward.
I had to fight the urge to be passive. To give the shopping all over to my brother.
What then? Would I stop going to department stores? Limit myself to small corner shops? Would I stop going to any large function?
It’s easy to surrender. We did the work, didn’t we? Why do we have to KEEP working? Isn’t enough, enough? Don’t we have to draw a line?
The line moves, and so do we … if we want to maintain our same level of independence.
We need a refresher.
STEP TWO: WHERE DO I START?
It could be as easy as contacting your state rehab facility where you formerly trained, or even the individual who offered you the orientation and mobility training. In Pennsylvania, if you have been away from the facility for a number of years, it requires an eye appointment documented on a form. The Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services in the area where I live works with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR). I sought guidance in job assistance, rehab in home safety and organization, and orientation and mobility training, so I received the whole package. But this may vary from place to place.
If you don’t know where to seek help, ask the closest ophthalmologist or low vision specialist in your area to recommend the proper person, or actions. That’s how I connected with the State in the first place.
STEP 3: WHAT DO I NEED TO SUCCEED?
It’s helpful to have an idea in advance. But if you are uncertain, discuss your challenges and options with the counselor assigned to you. He or she may refer you directly to the O&M trainer to go on a mobility walk and assess your current needs. Together you can troubleshoot and formulate a plan to meet your needs. It may include discussion sessions, visual aids, such as a high-powered flashlight or metallic tape on your cane, or technology-based resources (familiarization with a iPhone GPS system or even a GPS-based cane!)
Furthermore, he or she could suggest a new or different cane technique, or offer a refresher course on previously-taught cane skill. Sometimes we become lazy and don’t follow what we have already learned.
Or you could decide having a guide dog would be what you need. The Orientation and Mobility Instructor would know how to direct you in this task. Strong cane skills are required when working with a guide so I would think a refresher course would be helpful.
At the same time, perhaps your O&M Trainer can discuss technology-based options. Mine told me about a voice-over technology-based GPS and I downloaded it. But I wasn’t prepared for the “white noise” the voice over provided. I also downloaded a simpler version of Google Maps. I practiced walking to various locations around town and the next town over. This program provided the help I needed.
Also you and your trainer may want to explore the possibilities of other specialty, technology-based eyes created by various private and low vision state organizations. This is an example being trialed in the Maryland, Virginia or NYC area. Check out the WayBand Trial Announcement and other innovative devices at: Low Vision Specialists of MD and VA.
During my retraining period of orientation and mobility, I learned about a remote program called AIRA, being tested at a local grocery chain in my area. Wegman’s had a strong desire to implement this program and lead the way in making the shopping experience in their chain more accessible.
My local Sight Center called me to ask if I would like to test the technology. Considering I avoid grocery stores at every turn, I welcomed this challenge to overcome my fears. I will share my experience in another post. For now, I will post a video of how the program works.
If you haven’t taken the step to use a white cane but your anxiety levels are saying you need to start, don’t let your fears stop you. Follow these three steps to become independent.
If you have had some orientation and mobility training, do you need to re-train? Ask yourself these three questions: Is maintaining my independence worth the effort? Where do I start? What do I need to succeed?
If you are still hesitating, check out my memoir, Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith or you can get a copy below. In it, I share the journey of one year in which orientation and mobility training changed my life and outlook.
Envision yourself participating in activities you enjoy again, aided by increased mobility training!
What do you most dislike (or fear, if you have never gone through) orientation and mobility training? How willing are you to re-train to regain lost independence since O&M training? Would you prefer to be a guide dog user? Have you ever tested out a new techy product for orientation?
You have just read, “3 Steps to Maintaining Better Mobility” by Amy L. Bovaird. © July 31, 2019. All rights reserved. If you have found value in this post, please take a moment to comment and share.
5 Stars “…I’m not vision impaired. I don’t read non-fiction for enjoyment. I am not what some might consider the target market for this book, but I can tell you that I would recommend it to my own teenagers, my husband, my teenage students, and anyone else I know as a book of bravery, encouragement, motivation, testimony, and just as a pleasure read. Don’t pass it by: You will be blessed.”–An Amazon Reader
5 Stars “Living in the Power instead of the fear!”
Mobility Matters elegantly shares Amy Bovaird’s emotions and experience which anyone going through vision loss can identify with. The transformation as she overcomes her fear and the enemies voices that her loss of vision will now define who she is as a person and dictate the rest of her life, will inspire hope to each reader. Amy’s journey stepping out in faith and how the Lord’s Word gave her the strength to keep going, is a must read.
This book is not only for those going through the hallway of vision loss, but for each family member or any one who loves someone losing their vision would also benefit by reading.
Mobility Matters Stepping out in Faith has left me thinking I will now call canes power sticks!!!
Michael Benson, Founder
Visual Experience Foundation
4 Stars “…As a mobility specialist myself, I found this book of great interest to me for its subject matter. I was quite amazed that Amy could get around on her own with her genetic condition, particularly at night, since individuals with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) tend to lose their night vision and are using a cane at night much sooner than Amy was using any assistive device (even a bright light). Amy maintained her positive attitude, her faith and her sense of humour. If only we all could do that in times of crisis!” –Kathryn Svendsen, Mobility Specialist, Canada
5 Stars “Couldn’t stop reading until I finished. Very inspirational. Will definitely be looking for more by this author!” –Sharon Hannah
5 stars “…This book really inspired me. Amy’s outlook on life is what I would like to model in my own. Yes, going blind SUCKS but she took it to another level. She made it into an adventure and I needed to be reminded of that again. Her positive outlook on this all has really encouraged me in my current situation now. Taking the step of faith to move on forward and embrace life for what it is. I highly recommend purchasing this book! Be inspired, take a journey behind the life of someone with Usher, smile, laugh, and enjoy! –Andi Nicole
5 Stars “As a person who lives with chronic illness, I sometimes get bogged down with books on illness that feel really heavy. This one does not. Author Amy Bovaird, who is losing her sight, writes so well about her personal experiences, I feel like I’m walking alongside her as I read. I kept coming back to the story to see what happened–was she going to let fear stop her? Would she overcome?
The lessons Amy learns through her experiences apply to any of us who fear aging, illness, new symptoms, or really anyone who needs some inspiration, and that reminder that much can be accomplished if you step out and forward–even when you cannot see beyond that first step. I definitely enjoyed this book. –Kimberly Rae, Bestselling Author of the Stolen Series
Blog post review by Gillian Davis, RP Tunnel of Sight
One of the best books I have ever read about mobility and white cane use is called Mobility Matters: Stepping out in Faith by Amy Bovard. It is funny, poignant and packs a lot of tips and useful information. You can find it by following the link below to Amy’s web page and listen to a chapter before you buy, it is wonderful.