I went to the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired and had my Mobility Assessment with Kasey. He was really nice and not at all pushy. He made a lot of jokes and I felt very comfortable with him. Kasey has Retinitis Pigmentosa and, like me, suffers from night blindness. He mainly uses his cane at night. Throughout the entire assessment, I would not have been able to tell that he has low vision.
We chatted for a few minutes about which aspects of mobility are difficult for me. It was not like my meeting with the Rehab Specialist, when I felt like I didn’t know what I needed. I know exactly what my strengths and weaknesses are with regard to mobility. I told Kasey my thoughts, and then we went for a walk so that he could assess me. It seemed strange at first, but he just kept talking to me. It began to seem like we were just two friends going for a walk, and I could almost forget that I was being assessed.
We walked all through the ABVI building, which is full of twists and turns and ups and downs. I saw the sewing room, where people who are blind and visually impaired work on contract items. Very interesting. That room really gave me hope that I will sew again. After taking me all over the building, Kasey had me find my way back to his office. I did very well, because I have great “visual mapping skills” (his words). Next, we went outside and walked down the street. It was a beautiful day and, again, felt more like a walk with a friend than a test.
We returned to Kasey’s office and he told me what he had observed. As I had told him, I hesitate when I am unsure of where a step or pavement change might be. He said that I “shuffle” my feet to test surface changes. He told me some strengths that I have and some weaknesses. All in all, I agreed with everything he said.
After completing my assessment, Kasey told me how he would like to proceed. Apparently, there are three stages of mobility training – the first is basic safety, the second is more intensive (this is where I would get my cane) and the third is about buses and other transportation. He wants me to have training in all three. He emphasized that he is not going to force me to use a cane and that mobility training can be helpful even without cane training. We also talked a lot about driving and I shared with him that I am afraid that my ability to drive is coming to an end. He reassured me that he will help me find a way to get to work and around the city.
Here are my thoughts about the cane. I can not imagine myself using it at work or any time during the day. I admit that it might be helpful at night, in low light, when I am out. I have such bad night vision that I can not get around on my own. Now, when we are out at night, I find myself clinging to John’s arm. I do not enjoy the feeling of helplessness that this gives me, so I think that a cane would be preferable.
Kasey will be calling me to arrange a time to begin mobility training. I am ready to begin and, now that I have met him, I think it will be fine. I think that, as time goes by, I am getting used to the idea that I need some help. I need to go through this stage in order to get to a point where I am more independent. For everyone I have worked with at ABVI, my independence is the goal. They are making me believe that everything is going to work out great. Even if I reach a point where I can not drive. Even if I need to use a cane. I will be okay.