[AI] independence and mobility

Jean Parker radioforever at gmail.com
Mon Sep 27 03:54:30 EDT 2010


Being independent in one's mobility does not mean never utilizing the assistance of others.  Actually, it means quite the opposite.  To be independently mobile, one uses one's mobility skills which might include, cane, listening, asking for and using information about one's location, having back-up plans in case the first plan doesn't work, employing strategies to get where you want to go and, at times, requesting and receiving assistance from others.  The thing that makes you independent is that you make the decisions about where you will go, when you will go, who else will go, what you will do when you get there, and how you will get there.  It doesn't mean, nor has it ever meant, never asking for assistance from others.  
It does mean gauging one's environment based on what you know about it and employing the mobility skills and available assistance that best fits the situation.  But the key is that YOU decide, no one else decides for you.

It might interest you to know that while blind people in the United States often pride themselves on using good cane technique and navigating to unknown locations "by themselves,"  this does not mean not asking for and receiving assistance.  The environment there is much different than it is here.  You should also know, that many blind people in the United States find themselves in the difficult situation of attending large events and having no assistance available to them at times when they really need it.  This is both a practical issue and a cultural one.  It asks the question of how each person defines independence and how do they implement their beliefs in everyday life.  It also raises the question of how we judge each other's mobility skills and/or preferences.  This is an ongoing debate among blind people which will probably not be completed in any of our lifetimes.  

We can not always apply the mobility strategies used in the west here in India or in most other developing countries.  But we can adapt much of the philosophy that has emerged in the west and adjust the techniques to meet our individual needs.

Finally, having traveled widely in many parts of the world, the strategies I use to get where I want to go are always flexible as to the environment, language, time of day, culture and a million other factors that are beyond the scope of this list.  The strategies I use in India are often different than the one's I use in America or Europe but the end result is that I still get where I want to go and I am in control of the process.  


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