Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It Isn't Easy Being a Mini Horse Guide

Sighted people have no idea how difficult they can make situations in trying to be helpful. Cali will have to negotiate some of the most amazing situations. I took these photos in our little town in Arkansas and ask that you imagine how you would travel these situations with no sight. Cali and I will be traveling this intersection this week. I will report back to you what she discovers. Of course, I'll be there helping her. She has enough training that she can make some decisions. It will be interesting how she negotiates the challenge.

Cali will not make the decision to cross. She will stop and indicate that she and Mona are at a crossing. Mona can tell by the sound of the traffic which way they are going. She will listen to the sounds to determine which way the cars travel. She will wait for several cycles of the lights changing (if there are lights). She will then indicate to Cali to go forward. Cali must know whether to obey the forward command or not. But, Cali will not try to go forward until told. If there are no lights, Mona would wait for no sound of traffic.

At this particular intersection there are crossing indicators. But, there is no sound so the blind person cannot see when the light is on. And, cars still turn when the walk light is on. And, if that isn't enough of a challenge the buttons for crossing are on different poles for different directions but not close to the cross walk. The buttons are labeled which does nothing for the blind person.

Take particular note of the crossing of the railroad tracks. I suppose a person is supposed to follow the red brick to safely get to lining up the walkway with the crossing. But, a blind person will not see the brick road. If one continues straight towards the tracks on the sidewalk, they will come to a steep drop off. I will expect Cali to take us to the drop off. She will then have to turn right to find the next curb and then left to go across the tracks.

You might ask why she doesn't just follow the brick path. Cali must have a shoreline and Mona must trust that Cali is taking her straight. The blind person makes all the directional decisions. Cali provides the information to allow the decision. If Mona were familiar with this intersection she might tell Cali "over-right" and follow the right side of the curb as the shoreline. If not, she would have to find her way by trial and error with the information that Cali provides.

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