Blind Self Defense

A local community group of and for blind and visually impaired people offers a free self-defense class to those with vision loss. To encourage myself to try more adventurous travel, I decided to attend. I’m going to attempt an objective re-telling of events.

First, I called to find out how to reach the location. I was asked, “Do you have any usable vision?” I replied in the negative. “Then just call us when you are at the corner and we will come get you.”

Being me, I thought, “Screw that” and tried to find the place on my own. I failed and resorted to calling. I was told the woman would “Throw the harness on the dog and be right there.”

A man then pulled up and confirmed I was going to the place in question. “I’m here to give you a ride,” he said.

“I’m not getting in the car of a man I don’t know,” I flatly and rather emphatically stated.

“Then how will you get there?” he asked.

“Um, walk.” I answered.

“Turn right at the first driveway,” he said and by subsequent lack of presence I determined he had left. He did re-appear about when I needed to turn and directed me inside. I did not enter the building until I heard the sound of other people.

After leaving my guide dog leashed to a chair – standard practice in such a situation – I took my telescoping cane and went to the spot I was directed to occupy. It is all the way across the room from my dog.

Someone then asked me, “Why do you have your cane?”

“So I can walk places,” I replied.

“You don’t need it. We’ll take you wherever you need to go.”

“Um, is it a problem for me to have it?”

“It might get in the way. We’ll just put it by your jacket.”

“Uh, okay.”

Class happens. At the end, I need the restroom and am given directions that include, “Use your echolocation to find the first hallway on your right.” I don’t really have great echolocation, but I did find the hall with my dog’s help.

Upon leaving, I asked which way to turn once I exit the building. I was told right and I tried that. It led me to a trash can, poll, and bush. I went back inside and inquired, “Go right immediately outside the door? There was a bush and stuff.”

“Just tell your dog to go right.”

I did that. The nice mailman had to help me get to where I needed to go.