Browse By Topic: Getting Around

Shared Vision Quest Coast-to-Coast Ride: Interview with Mike Robertson

"Dream Big or Go Home!" Mike Robertson Mike Robertson has a big dream that nearly got lost. "I always loved the freedom and exhilaration I got from riding my bicycle, and I wanted to go across the country. That all changed 20 years agomy vision got worse, a crash on my bike shook my confidence, and I lost my driver’s license. I climbed into a deep depression." Photo courtesy of Hans Breaux Shared Vision Quest is the resurrection of Robertson’s dream, as a coast-to-coast bicycle ride he started June 25th with his cycling partner and co-visionary,


Reasons Accidents Happen and How to Minimize Them As an Individual with Vision Loss

"Would you believe that I’ve been punched in the nose by a refrigerator, a closet door ajar, and even a wall? It’s all been caused by my hurrying frantically to get just one more task done, just one more e-mail answered, just one more load in the washer before my ride comes." Do these scenarios by a very competent, independent blind woman sound familiar? Whether blind or sighted, no matter how careful, we are to make our home environments safe, accidents are going to happen, but we can minimize them by reminding ourselves to slow down, focus on the current moment, and consistently use the safety techniques we often ignore because of our


Preventing Falls and Accidents As an Individual with Vision Loss

Editor's Note: As individuals with vision loss, navigating hazards at home can be tricky, dangerous, and take some time getting used to. Because June is National Home Safety Month, the VisionAware peer advisors are sharing stories about their in-home accidents, reasons why accidents happen to individuals living with visual impairment, and how they can be prevented. Heed their advice and utilize VisionAware resources to help you be safer in your home. Preventing Falls and Accidents Would you believe that I’ve been punched in the nose by a refrigerator, a closet door ajar, and even


Maintaining Independent Living with a Visual Impairment

Editor's Note: Today's post is from guest blogger, Jackie Waters. Jackie is a mother of four boys and lives on a farm in Oregon. She is passionate about providing a healthy and happy home for her family and aims to provide advice for others on how to do the same through her own website. She has recently had an older relative come live with her and, together, they worked on needed changes in the home to make it safe and easy to access. We are sharing this for Older Americans Month to help caregivers and their loved ones who are encountering similar situations. A Stranger in Your Own Home If you’re dealing with some sort of visual impairmentwhether it be from injury,


Dancers: A Tribute to My Nine Guide Dogs

I wrote this poem while walking 16 blocks with my sixth guide dog to a dental appointment. I am sharing it to honor my nine guide dogs on April 26th, International Guide Dog Day! Dancers: A Tribute to My Nine Guide Dogs We are cloud dancers, You lead and I follow. Our steps synchronized Our bodies swaying to the same rhythm. Swept along in the current of the jet stream. Floating lightly on the swell of an updraft, Swooping into a glide down the slope of a


Driving on the Horizon: One Story of Parenting a Teen As a Visually Impaired Mother

The reality any parent will tell you is this: as children become teens, their abilities grow along with their independence. We must be there to guide but also to accept and take pride in their accomplishments. I did not expect the bittersweet reality of my daughter’s driving to overwhelm me as it did, but perhaps this story will reassure others that what you are feeling is normal. Driving on the Horizon: One Story of Parenting a Teen “You can come with us, Mom, but don’t freak out, because if you do, so will I.” These grudging words pave our way to my daughter Sophia’s third driving experience. The sapphire dusk is


My Guide Dog, Grant: A Reason, a Season, and for a Lifetime

It was once said, and now often repeated, that “people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” Although the author of this quote is unknown, I believe that he would extend the meaning of this quote to service animals that come into our lives for a reason, a season, and a lifetime. For those of us who have gained the experience of working with a guide dog, there is certainly a special place in our hearts for their dedication and affection. The Reason My personal experience with using a guide dog came in my early 50s. Although I had been visually impaired all of my life, I


Guide Dog or White Cane? Mobility Tools for Individuals with Vision Loss

Editor's note: February is low vision awareness month, and we are highlighting the importance of being safe when walking around, even in a known area. VisionAware peer advisor, DeAnna Noriega, gives sound advice about what you should think about when making a decision about a dog or cane. Questions to Consider If you have low vision, your lack of depth perception may make it hard to judge changes in the elevation of the ground where you are walking. Other questions to consider: Do you have trouble adjusting to differences in lighting when you go outside or come into a building? Are blind spots in


Amy Bovaird Interviewed About Her Book, "Cane Confessions: The Lighter Side to Mobility"

Amy Authors Second Book on Mobility Editor's note: Beckie Horter, peer advisor, conducts this interview of Amy Bovaird about her second book. Cane Confessions is the second book in peer advisor, Amy Bovaird's, mobility series. The first is Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith. It follows the journey of her orientation and mobility training. In this latest book, Cane


Travel Around the World this Holiday Season: A Postcard from Melbourne

Editor's note: Are you thinking about traveling this holiday season? Utilize your orientation and mobility skills to experience the holidays around the world. VisionAware peer advisor, Maribel, shares the festivities in her city in this excerpt from The City on Top in the Land Down Under. This blog was originally posted on Maribel's travel blog, Touching Landscapes. A Postcard from Melbourne By Maribel Steel The continent of Australia may be


The Perfect Guide Dog

Often as I go about my business accompanied by my guide dog, people remark on his beauty, good manners, and say things like, I wish my dog was as well behaved as yours. They don’t seem to understand that a lot of work on the part of a puppy raiser, a guide dog instructor, and yes, me too, goes into creating the picture perfect dog at my side. He has the same instincts and impulses as the pet they have at home, but he understands that when in harness, he must focus on the job for which he was trained. However, he is first and foremost a dog. He has been bred for intelligence and carefully raised


What Does It Take to Become a Guide Dog?

Guide dog schools everywhere are committed to the mission of producing, training, and matching skilled guide dogs with handlers who are visually impaired, to provide safe and independent mobility. The mission is multi-faceted and requires a huge investment of time, talent, and money. Transforming a little ball of fur into a responsible and disciplined working dog takes patience and commitment from many people along the way. And the people who do this work are driven by a special passion, both for the dogs and the people they will serve. They would say the reward of witnessing a successful guide dog team working together makes it all worth it. Guide


What to Do if Mismatched to a New Guide Dog?

With September being Guide Dog Appreciation Month, here is a post with a difference. What happens if you feel mismatched to your new guide dog? Peer advisor, Mary Hiland, shares her advice from personal experience to trust your feelings and not to feel you are doing anything wrong. It's All About the Match Instructors at the dog guide schools work very hard to make sure they have found exactly the right dog for each student. My first three dogs were proof of their diligence. Mindy, my first, was a very serious worker, but one of the most affectionate and loving dogs I’ve had. She was great for my first dog, because one of us had to know what we were doing, and it certainly wasn’t


Determining the Livability of Communities for People with Vision Loss

Editor's note: Finding a livable community for people who are visually impaired can be very challenging. In 2003, the American Foundation for the Blind did a study to determine the key criteria for livable communities for people who are blind or visually impaired. VisionAware recently followed up on this study to determine if the criteria identified years ago was still viable and if the cities named in the study still made the list. Although not just for seniors, we are bringing you this post just in time for Healthy Aging Month. Developing Criteria on the


Memoir of a Guide Dog: It's Off to Work We Go

Editor's note: September is National Guide Dog Month. The VisionAware Peer Advisors have put together a few posts about their experiences with guide dogs, how much their dog improves their mobility and independence, and how they work with their four-legged friends. Today's post takes on the voice of Maribel's guide dog, Nev. Stay tuned for more posts later this month. Memoir of a Guide Dog: It's Off to Work We Go By Maribel Steel Our guide dogs have the most amazing personalities. Loyal, focused, protective, loving, and at times they can be highly entertaining. For Guide Dog Appreciation Month, I’m sharing a tale about my golden Labrador who was a real


Summertime and the Living Is Easy

Sue with guide dog So a song by the American artist, Ella Fitzgerald, begins. I grew up in the American south. As a child the heat never really bothered me. We spent the summers outside, usually at summer camp. When not at camp, we were outside riding our ponies or playing physically demanding games. It’s quite different now! My day job is with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. I spend my days before a computer. It’s a fun job, and I enjoy my team and the work we do. But it’s a pretty sedentary job. Last February, I trained with my fifth


Getting Selected for the 2016 Amtrak Writers in Residency Program

Earlier this year I was frustrated with the way my business was going. I didn't have any ride sales pending. I wasn't getting hired for coaching or being booked for speaking. Heck, I wasn't even sure I could get from here to there if someone did invite me to come share my story with their group. I live in a suburb of Houston where there is very little in the way of public transportation. We don't have a


Sue Martin Pens a New Memoir "In Dog We Trust"

Editor's note: Mary D'Apice, VisionAware Correspondent interviewed Sue about her new book. In Dog We Trust Sue Martin's first book "Out of the Whirlpool: A Memoir of Remorse and Reconciliation," chronicles a young woman's battle with depression, a suicide attempt that resulted in blindness, and a courageous journey to rebuild her life. Her second book, "In Dog We Trust:


The Five Top Ways I Use Uber

Why I Use Uber The past year Uber has revolutionized my life. It has been an excellent alternative to public transportation, cabs, hiring personal drivers and asking for rides from friends. I have used Uber for all kinds of commuting around the Atlanta Metro area. Doctor appointments, work-related meetings, grocery shopping, and outings with friends and movie nights. You name it and Uber has pretty much taken me there. But with all of this traveling around Uber can be quite addictive. I mean, with the ability to call up a driver in about 5-10 minutes with the swipe of a finger on your smartphone just about any time you want? That is just hard


Using Uber As an Alternative Transportation Service for People with Vision Loss

What is Uber Nearly a year ago I started trying out a new transportation service that hit my city called Uber. I had been hearing about it all over the place from both sighted and blind friends. I had not tried it yet because I had no smartphone and I also was not sure of its effectiveness. But after purchasing my iPhone and having to wait longer than I wanted at a doctor’s office, I decided to try Uber. It was a funny situation that you can read about in VisionAware’s


Freedom Sticks: How My White Cane Brought Me Freedom

It was a sunny autumn morning a few years ago. On the brick pathway in front of my house, my mobility instructor and I stood side-by-side. I swept my new white cane across the uneven surface, registering the sensation of the bricks compared to the smooth wooden porch boards I explored earlier. The bumps and cracks felt jarring and jumbled together. The information overwhelmed my brain. I stopped and asked if my arm was at the correct angle, I didn't want to be making a habit with a poor


Blindness Brings Kindness: The Win Win of a Visual Impairment

After reading peer advisor Sheila Rousey’s post for Random Acts of Kindness week, and the rewards that come from being open to the act of giving and receiving, I am reminded of how being visually-impaired is an unexpected gift we give to ourselves and to others. Attracting Attention As a person with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), I accept that


Megabus: A Safe and Affordable Transportation Option for People Who Are Visually Impaired

I just came back from my first trip on Megabus and I am happy to report it was a great success. I went from Atlanta to Knoxville, a 3.5 hour bus ride, to visit my daughter. She recently got engaged and I wanted to go visit so we could work on wedding plans. Megabus made it possible for me to travel on my own with my guide dog in safety and comfort! And the best part was the round trip ticket cost $11.50, less than a tank of gas. Megabus has been operating


Part 2 of the White Cane Safety Day Debate: The Impact of New Colors on the Long Mobility Cane

Happy White Cane Safety Day!! Author's note: In Part 1, we reviewed the history of the white cane. In Part 2, we will explore the perspectives of users of the long white cane, professionals in the field of orientation and mobility, and product manufacturers. For newcomers to the field of vision rehabilitation,


Part 1 of the White Cane Safety Day Debate: The Impact of New Colors on the Long Mobility Cane

Author's note: The nation celebrates White Cane Safety Day on October 15. As this celebration occurs, the historic white color of this "visible symbol of a blind person's ability to come and go on his own," as President Johnson stated in the original proclamation, is competing with a growing interest in choice of colors by users for their canes. This post is part one of a two-part series that will (1) give a brief historical evolution of the white cane in the U.S. and Europe; (2) explore the perspectives of users of the long white cane, professionals in the field of orientation and mobility, and product manufacturers;


Top Ten Ways My Dog Guide Assists Me

Editor's note: We continue to celebrate National Service Dog Month. This post is Audrey's tribute to her dog guide Sophie and completes our series. Perfect for Each Other My guide dog Sophie is amazing. As we trained together to become a team, she wowed and captivated me with her sharp skills, attentive gaze, and beautiful face. I was certain she was the right dog for me from the very start. And I was so excited to begin my life with her. I had no idea


Lessons My Dog Guides Have Taught Me: Part Three

Editor's Note: We continue to celebrate National Service Dog Guide Month. This post is Part Three of Deanna's tribute to her nine dog guides and the lessons they have taught her. Be sure to read Part One and Part Two. Olsen--Getting


Lessons My Dog Guides Have Taught Me: Part Two

Editor's Note: We continue to celebrate National Service Dog Guide Month. This post is Part Two of Deanna's tribute to her nine dog guides and the lessons they have taught her. Be sure to read Part One. Irish: Make Time to Smell the Roses Irish was my smallest black lab. She weighed in at about sixty pounds. While walking through town on a quiet Sunday, I paused at an intersection with Irish and my five year-old daughter Kassia. Since no traffic was moving at all, I instructed "Irish,


Lessons My Dog Guides Have Taught Me: Part One

Editor's Note: We continue to celebrate National Service Dog Guide Month. This post is Part One of Deanna's tribute to her nine dog guides and the lessons they have taught her. Author's note: I am currently working with my ninth dog guide from The Seeing Eye Inc. Each of my lovely dogs has taught me lessons I could apply to other aspects of my life. Excuse me if I have gotten carried away writing about my journey through the world


RunMelbourne: A Walk in the Park with Our Guide Dogs

Editor's note: September is National Service Dog Guide Month (originally National Dog Guide Month). To start our coverage of this annual occurance, Maribel Steel, VisionAware's International Correspondent, shares her story of a "Walk in the Park" event in Melbourne, Australia. Stay tuned for more. Gathering of the Team The team had come prepared. Dozens of orange caps and water-proof ponchos packed by the staff of Guide Dogs Victoria (GDV) to be handed out to their clients – the rain was not going to dampen our fun-loving spirit for this year’s RunMelbourne event. The sun came out in a burst of support while the hive of volunteers buzzed about helping clients who are visually impaired to attach name badges to orange t-shirts and time tags to the inside of


Choices We Make: Independence We Celebrate, Part Two

Coordinated by Maribel Steel Editor’s note: To celebrate independence in this month of many independence-related events, our peer advisors share their perspectives when it comes to choosing a white cane or dog guide to maintain personal independence. Be sure to read Part One on Choosing a White Cane. Why Choose a Dog Guide? by Mary Hiland


Choices We Make: Independence We Celebrate, Part One

Coordinated by Maribel Steel Editor’s note: To celebrate July as "Independence Month," for all of its independence-related celebrations, the peer advisors initiated this topic of "independence" last July and have a lengthy series of posts to peruse. Be sure to read Part Two on Choosing a Dog Guide. The White Cane: A Useful Tool That Opens Up Your World <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.asp?ImageID=6050" alt="picture of person walking with long


My First Blind Date Led to Years of a Loving Relationship

Editor's note: Just in time for Valentine's Day, a touching story by Maribel Steel. Graduation From Guide Dog School When I was fifteen months old I graduated from the Guide Dog Victoria. It was a very proud moment in my puppy dog life. My family was there at my Graduation and they were so proud of me. We couldn't believe that I had passed my twelve months of socializing, five months of intense training and an endless week of exams. I was now a fully fledged


Surviving a New Year Festival in Australia--As a Visually Impaired Person!

The Decision to Go to the Festival I had heard a lot about the Woodford Folk Festival…that it was an amazing event and one should experience this music extravaganza at least once in one’s life. So, I was very excited when my partner booked for us to go to the festival in December 2014. "It might be a bit of a challenge though, getting around with one hundred thousand people?" he said. "Nah. I’m up for the challenge. It will be fun!" I reassured us both. Dealing with Heat and Thousands of People So off we went by plane to Queensland—inland, in northeast Australia --to make our way in the heat of summer…in high spirits with adventure in


The White Cane: Symbol of Dependence Or Independence

Editor's note:This is last in our series of posts in honor of White Cane Day. Our guest blogger, Kendra Farrow, CVRT, graduated from Western Michigan University with her Master’s degree in blind rehabilitation. She worked as a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist for fourteen years. Her experiences included organizing transition programming, leading activity and support groups, conducting community education on blindness and low vision, and providing one on one instruction with consumers in their homes.


My First Mobility Lessons Learning to Use A White Cane

Editor's note: This is our third post this week in our series celebrating White Cane Day and what it means. Be sure to go back and read Using a White Cane Gives Me Confidence and Safety and How I Accepted the White Cane. Tomorrow we will have one more post from a guest blogger to honor this important day. My Life with Blindness My life with blindness began in my mid-twenties. I had no idea what to expect. I had been blind for about a month when my orientation and mobility (O&M), instructor,


Using a White Cane Gives Me Confidence and Safety

Editor's note: This is our second post this week in our series celebrating White Cane Day and what it means. Be sure to go back and read How I Accepted the White Cane. The Diagnosis "You are legally blind,” the doctor said to me, after making the diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa, RP. "Your sight will never get better and probably will get worse." I was 18 at the time. Being a blind person was not in my life plan, but over the next


How I Accepted the White Cane

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series this week of posts on the white cane. Be sure to stay tuned for the rest of this series. Accepting the White Cane There comes a time when it just makes sense to use a white cane when you are losing your vision. Most of us resist this rite of passage, fearing the stigmas, myths, and images associated with the “dreaded white cane.” Something Awful Had to Happen In my case, something awful


My Dog Guide Sophie and I

This post is in honor of National Dog Guide Month. Sophie Is Amazing My dog guide Sophie is amazing. As we trained together to become a team, she wowed and captivated me with her sharp skills, attentive gaze, and beautiful face. I was certain she was the right dog for me from the very start. And I was so excited to begin my life with her. I had no idea what it took to become a good team. As I learned the intricacies of being a dog handler from Sophie and the instructors, I began to realize the complexities of this new relationship. Sophie was born to be a


The Joys of Getting Around in the Public Eye

Editor's note: This is part of a series on the theme of Laughter is Often the Best Medicine. We often find it difficult to laugh at situations when we blunder if we are struggling to find our equilibrium of adjusting to life's demands along with vision loss. In time, we realize one of the best therapies for learning to accept and value our visually impaired selves is to laugh at our faux pas. Read, enjoy, share.... Tweety Bird’s Mobility Instruction Written by Peer Advisor Lynda Jones <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.asp?ImageID=6069" alt="clip


Light at the End of the Tunnel: My Travels on Amtrak

Guest Blogger, VaShaun Jones is the Managing Partner of Fedora Outlier LLC, the first nationally-recognized firm delivering consulting, teaching and support for Apple’s range of born accessible technologies to individuals who are blind or have low vision. The firm was founded in mid 2011. Fedora’s mission is to educate, equip and empower the blindness community for success in the workplace, classroom and at play. Outside of managing his company, Jones enjoys playing the saxophone, working with people who are deaf-blind and advocating for the rights and responsibilities of people who are blind. I Enjoy Traveling on Amtrak Trains,


The Transportation Problem: Finding Rides When You Can’t Drive

Editor's Note: The information in this post has been updated in this article, The Transportation Problem: Finding Rides When You Can't Drive As an Individual with Vision Loss. For additional tips and transportation alternatives, check out the Transportation section on VisionAware. The Transportation Problem One of the most difficult challenges for people with vision loss is finding reliable and affordable transportation. Whether


Wearing Many Hats For Independence: Traveling Safely

Editor's note: This post has been updated to include an audio recording of Maribel Steel's short story, "Many Different Hats." Listen to her story. Traveling Through a Battle Zone Editor's Note: In the wake of Independence Day, we bring you this 3rd in a series on independence. When a blind person ventures out from their home, it can feel like going into a battle zone. Navigating a safe path around obstacles and unpredictable barriers and maintaining one’s dignity is like taking a merry waltz through a mine-field. At


Vacationing in our Nation's Capital

Vacationing in D.C. As a Person Who is Blind I have been to Washington, D.C. on several occasions, but those trips were always work-related. It was always coming in for a meeting, workshop or conference and quickly leaving out. I rarely visited any of the historic sites or toured the Capitol and surrounding Mall. So when the opportunity to travel with a tour group presented itself I took advantage. I flew out of Atlanta to meet my group in Alexandria for a 3-day historical walk through our nation’s Capital. I decided to take my vacation with a tour group instead of traveling by myself or with friends and


Traveling Blind: A Sensory Experience

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." Saint Augustine My husband and I just returned from a trip to California. We visited Yosemite National Park, San Francisco, Muir Woods, Carmel, and Sonoma Valley. He is an excellent vacation planner and travel companion! This was one of my favorite trips with such a variety of experiences and adventures: hiking among the giant Sequoia, picnicking and wine-tasting in lush wine country, riding the rickety trolley car, shopping in the “hippie” district in the city, lunching on dim sum in colorful China Town, sipping tea in the peaceful Japanese gardens, meandering in the serenity of Cathedral Grove among the regal Redwoods, walking the dog-friendly beaches with my dog guide Sophie, breathing in


Paw-wheel Driving with a Dog Guide

By Maribel Steel The Big Day During the first weeks of dog guide training, you can become easily overwhelmed by the new skills required to be able to step out in confidence with your four-legged companion. The interaction required between your canine pilot and you as navigator takes a significant measure of trust, courage, and good humour to keep moving smoothly through a chaotic world of obstacles. If you have wondered what it is like to experience that first leap into the unknown, then hold on tight, we’re going paw-wheel driving with my dog guide


Packing for Holiday Travel

Editor's Note: The peer advisors can't get enough of sharing their tips and advice on travel tips for people who are blind or visually impaired. Last week Sue Bramhall shared her travel tips from the perspective of a business owner of a travel tour company. This time DeAnna Quietwater Noriega shares hers but with a focus on dressing for travel, packing your suitcase and traveling with a dog guide. Packing and Identifying Your


Travel Tips For People Who Are Visually Impaired

Traveling with a Visual Impairment Editor's note: with the holidays just around the corner, the peer advisors thought it would be good to share some travel tips. This guest blog post was written by Sue Bramhall: Sue Bramhall I’m a lifelong traveler who has Retinitis Pigmentosa, or RP, and I also run a travel agency for the visually impaired. So, if you have vision loss, I’d like to share several useful travel tips. And for those of you not affected, you may find at least a few of them useful as well. Ask for Help When Needed


Older Alabamians Speak Out About the Importance of Specialized Services for Older Persons with Visual Impairment

Anthony: OASIS Got Me Over the Hump Anthony is 78 and has Retinitis Pigmentosa. Although he has been visually impaired all of his life, it was not until he lost his dog guide in April, 2012 that he realized that he needed vision rehabilitation services to build his confidence and independence. He found out about about OASIS (Older Alabamians System of Information and Services) from a friend. Jane, a


Summer Travel Adventures with Vision Loss

Traveling is My Passion Traveling is my passion. There is nothing more exciting to me than stepping onto an airplane and flying off to a new and unexplored destination. I’ve had the love of travel ever since I was a very young child. At age five I traveled with my family across the United States to the coast of Washington state in a motor home that we rented. Twice again during my growing up years my family drove across the United States, visiting famous landmarks and spending time with my relatives who live in Arizona. I had seen much of the United States as a child, so as a college student I yearned to see more of the


Vision Loss and Solving Problems, Part Two

Editor's note: Vision Rehabilitation Therapist and new Peer Advisor Linda Fugate, EdD, brings a practical approach to finding solutions for living with vision loss. Read Part One. Part Two focuses on three examples of applying the ADAPT method for problem solving. Solving the ChallengesApplying the ADAPT Method Attitude Example: Mary has macular degeneration. She is concerned that she can no longer find anything; nothing is where it belongs. She does not want to mark items; she does not want


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