Per the suggestion of my best friend Allie I am going to share with you some of the things that are involved when someone who is blind is moving into a new place.
Let’s start with orientation and mobility…
Orientation refers to the relationship between a person and the physical space that surrounds him/her. It includes conceptualizing spatial relationships, such as right angles for negotiating intersections and understanding the layout in one’s own home or office so that a person can confidently and efficiently function in these environments.
Mobility refers to techniques used to move safely through the environment while getting from Point A to Point B.
If you found that ^^^ information interesting you can read more here.
When I am out and about I use my cane to help me navigate my surroundings. Basically my cane and my hearing work as my”eyes”. When I am in the comfort of my own home the cane gets tucked in the corner and forgotten about until I get ready to go somewhere. Learning the layout of our new apartment wasn’t hard for me per say as it is a relatively small place. I trailed the walls and practiced walking across rooms and such probably 3-4 times and at that point I felt decently confident. For me it was staying in the mind that I was in a new place. Most might say “You forgot your were in a new place?!?!” Why yes, yes I have. All it took was concentrating completely on navigating the buildings stairs and hallways (while moving in our things) and then being happy I did it independently (albeit slowly) for me to drop the ball on focusing on where I was and where I was going after I walked in my front door. While concentrating so hard on navigating 2 sets of stairs and a small hallway while not only carrying something but not having my cane I found the apt door, walked through it and immediately veered to the left a little and BAM ran right into a wall. See in our old place when you walked in the front door you were in the living room and if you veered to the left a little bit it would have had you walking through the open area of the living room and to the couch. In the first few week I have woken up a couple of mornings and “forgot” where my bedroom door was. Eventually it will all just mentally be there but it takes time. The next step for me as far as orientation and mobility goes will be getting familiar with the neighborhood and learning and practicing getting to and from the bus stop. Luckily, aside from getting to and from the first bus stop, the bus travel I take to work will be the same as it always has been for me.
Once you get familiar with the layout of the apartment then comes the organization/placement of everything. This is the norm for anyone moving right? In our house our big goal is to only “place” things once. We think hard about how we want things to be so once it’s done then I can just focus on getting use to where everything is.
The food might not sound like a big deal to most but organizing (and never changing) the way food is put away especially canned goods is important so I can be confident that I am not opening a can of diced tomatoes when I need a can of corn. There are ways to label most of everything but I have found repeatedly put things in the same place works best for me.
Appliances have been the most frustrating thing for me as far as the new place goes but it’s not because they don’t work properly or anything like that. It’s because I apparently tossed out my bump dots without realizing it while packing. Bump dots (see Here) are peel and stick dots that people who are blind or visually impaired use to mark everyday items. They help me tactically navigate our appliances, my work phone, computer keyboard etc. since I can’t just look at them and know where the buttons or settings are that I need. I know the nice flat touch buttons on stoves/microwaves probably make them look nicer but let me tell you…you can’t FEEL those touch buttons (until they are nice and worn in) which in turn creates a small issue for someone who can not see. R and I discussed using tape or stickers until my new ones came in but honestly it was easier for him to start things for me and then we didn’t have to worry about trying to pick the temporary stuff off of the appliances when my bump dots arrived. The day I got home with my bump dots was a good day. I can now independently use my dishwasher, stove/oven, microwave and washer/dryer. It’s a lot easier to get things done when I am not constantly having to ask R to help with these things.
Moving to our new place has had it’s challenges but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I am still working on getting everything set up exactly right and with time that will happen.
“Everyone faces challenges in life. It’s a matter of how you learn to overcome them and use them to your advantage.”-Celestine Chua