Non Driving

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2013-01-23-Non Driving


The Keys to Successful Nondriving
Presented by

Dr. L. Penny Rosenblum

Bryan Duarte
Moderated by

Dawn Turco

January 23, 2013
Dawn Turco

Good morning and welcome to Seminars@Hadley. Today’s topic and title is The Keys to Successful Nondriving. Today’s presenters are Dr. L. Penny Rosenblum and Bryan Duarte. They join us today from their respective computers in Arizona. I’m Dawn Turco, I’m moderating today’s seminar.

The Keys to Successful NonDriving, I have to admit to you I chuckled a little bit at the title and the use of the word keys. The rare times I’ve had car keys in my hands are on mornings such as today in Chicago where I dashed out in the dark to start my husband’s engine and get our car pre-warming—it’s a bit of a frigid day here. Yes, I’m a nondriver as are today’s presenters, Penny and Bryan.
I suspect that many of us in the room today are lifelong nondrivers and perhaps we have a few others who are new to nondriving. I know that there’ll be something for all of us in today’s presentation, so I want to get us started. Penny, I am getting ready to hand the microphone to you.

Penny Rosenblum

Students, it’s a pleasure to be here with you. My name is Penny Rosenblum and like Dawn, I am a lifelong nondriver. I’m going to go ahead and be switching off with Bryan Duarte and he’ll be introducing himself shortly. Right now I have a slide up on the screen and I know some of you aren’t going to enjoy my photos, but I’ll describe them as I go along and for those of you who can see them I hope it’ll add a little interest to your computer talking at you.

I have two photos. One is of a woman in very rural Maine, who actually hitchhikes to the ferry terminal to catch the ferry to go over to the mainland, where she takes little vans from different communities to stores. And another one is of an Orientation & Mobility Instructor showing a young man how to use the bus. Next slide, please, Dawn.
I thought it would be good to start by introducing myself to you. So this slide says Penny’s childhood experiences and has four slides on it. I grew up in Freehold, New Jersey, which is suburbia. My parents bought a home, which was the first home in our neighborhood because by choice, my mother chose not to drive.
And so I have a picture of our house and I have a picture showing a little shopping center across the street. And this little shopping center was a bone of contention in my home when I was in late elementary school, because like all the other kids I neighborhood I wanted to walk to the stores over there and my parents wouldn’t let me cross the street unless I was with somebody.
And finally when I was about ten I convinced them I should cross the street, and I crossed the street for the first time by myself. I turned around and waved. I could not see them glued to the family room window, but I knew they were there and my mother and dad still laugh about my turning around and waving.
When I got into high school I very much wanted to not have to take the activity bus. I wanted to walk home and so I actually called for an Orientation & Mobility Instructor and I’m showing a picture of a very busy intersection on Route 9 in Freehold, New Jersey. Bruce Springsteen sings about Route 9. And after the O&M Instructor cleared me to cross that Route 9 intersection I did a couple of times, decided it was too far to walk and went back to the activity bus.

Ironically my father was a driving instructor. He owned a driving school, started it about eight years before I was born and he literally taught half of my high school class how to drive. That was pretty stressful for me and I have a picture of a newspaper clipping of my father looking much younger than he does right now at age 79 in front of his driving school car and the headline talks about “Driving School Instructor Works with Nervous Drivers.” Next slide, please, Dawn.

As Dawn said, I live in Tucson, Arizona, so I have a slide up here with my experiences today. I ride my bicycle a lot. I’ll be on actually as soon as the webinar is over; I have some errands to run. So there’s a picture of me in my bike clothes at an ATM machine. There’s a picture of my husband with our tonneau of our pickup truck open and he has a list in his hand and he’s trying to demonstrate that we have a big area for me to put all of my stuff in.
There’s a picture of our city bus and there’s a picture of me by a cab. And what’s kind of unique about me next to this taxi cab is I’m wearing a dress. I have a bag of school materials in my hand and a water bottle, but I’m standing at the trunk of the cab with my bicycle hanging out of it.
And in my job at the University of Arizona I work with student teachers and I often have to go out to schools. I’m doing it actually this exact way on Monday, where I will get a cab to the school so when I get there I can look professional. And I bring my bike clothes and my bike and then I bike home and get some exercise. So I’m very creative in how I meet my transportation needs.
Now it’s time to bring up the next slide and ask Bryan to go ahead and introduce himself to you.
Bryan Duarte

Thank you, Penny, and welcome everyone. My name is Bryan Duarte. I am a 27 year old husband of a beautiful wife and I have four children including two year old twin boys. I also have guide dog named Dixon, who everybody who knows me loves him first.

I lost my vision when I was 18 years old, due to a motorcycle accident. And as result of that I became totally blind. Currently I am a student at Arizona State University in the applied computer science field. I really enjoy writing computer software for blind accessibility.

And on a daily basis I am an independent, blind, no keys needed traveler. I every morning wake up and I get a ride humbly from my beautiful wife to the light rail. I take the light rail to an intercampus shuttle. And from that shuttle it’s about a 40 to 50 minute ride to my actual campus location.

And the return trip is similar with the exception or addition, if you will, I take the light rail to a public bus and then I get on a public bus and take it closely to my home. And then I walk the rest of the leg, so with all that being said, I do travel independently and I am totally blind and I will to turn this over with the next slide to Penny. Thank you.
Penny Rosenblum

Great. Well, thanks so much Bryan for introducing yourself. So what are we going to talk about for about the next 50 minutes? I’m going to introduce you to a curriculum called Finding Wheels. This curriculum was designed to help teens and young adults explore nondriving. And if you’re an adult, an older adult, you may find this valuable or you may find another curriculum I’m going to talk about briefly, valuable.

We’re going to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of the different forms of travel and how you plan for travel when you’re not the one with the car keys, when you’re not driving. And finally we’re going to briefly touch on a curriculum called Reclaiming Independence, which is designed for older adults to explore that knicky-knack transition from driver to nondriver. Throughout this, Bryan and I will both be giving examples of how we as nondrivers manage our transportation. Dawn, next slide, please.
As I mentioned, there’s a curriculum called Finding Wheels. This curriculum was developed by myself and Dr. Anne Corn and it is available from Pro-Ed. And I will be having Dawn post a resource list to the website, so you’ll have the information about this curriculum and some other articles and resources that might be helpful to you.

We wrote the Finding Wheels curriculum intending it to be for teachers of visually impaired students, TVIs, Certified Orientation Mobility Specialists, COMSs and families. However, we have had teens use the curriculum themselves. This curriculum is not a cookbook, so you don’t have to do it exactly the way the curriculum says. You don’t have to go and order the ten units. It’s a guide and the idea is we wanted to make sure that folks who themselves were drivers in most cases, really had some good information about the idea of being a nondriver.

And we have a lot of activities in the curriculum designed to help the young people explore their options, whether they’re going to stay in the community they’re currently living in or they’re going to move to a different community, perhaps to take a job, perhaps to go to school, perhaps to do some vocational training. So Finding Wheels is a tool out there that may be helpful to family members. It may be helpful to young people with visual impairments and to the professionals working with them. Next slide, please, Dawn.
So Finding Wheels is divided into four sections. The first section we introduce four teens who are nondrivers. And we tell a little bit about each of the teens through a little scenario about them. For example, Pablo takes the bus everywhere, so his motto is “Give me that transit pass and I’m good to go.”
And he talks about how he takes the bus to his community college, how he takes the bus to meet some friends for band practice. But by the time they’re done horsing around and having band practice it’s late, so he gets one of the guys in the band to give him a ride home and in exchange he buys the band pizza once in a while. Kisha, who talks about the power of her own two feet and she doesn’t want to be tied to a bus schedule, she wants to walk places.
So we have four scenarios of young people who are non drivers and the idea is we want the young people using the curriculum to be able to identify and to start to recognize that hey, I do things like Pablo, sort of, but I do some of the other things the way Mary Ann does. There’s just no one composite of who is a nondriver.
The second part of the curriculum talks about the realization of nondriving. What do I need to tell people about my visual impairment? I don’t need to tell the taxi driver the cause of my visual impairment. I need to tell him, honk the horn. I don’t see you pulling up.

The third section is the meat of the curriculum. It talks about the different types of transportation, walking and biking, which we call personal wheels; public wheels, like trains and subways; hired wheels, like taxis and hiring a driver.

And the fourth section talks about strategies you can use if you’re a nondriver to minimize your frustration and maximize your independence. What do you do when your taxi doesn’t show? How do you negotiate with somebody to get to the places you want to go without being a burden? Next slide, please, Dawn.
Section 1, I mentioned has the four scenarios and we do refer to them throughout the curriculum. Section 2 is the Realization of Nondriving. And I have a couple of young people, one is in a wheelchair; one is walking with his cane. The young woman in the wheelchair is being pushed by a gentleman and that gentleman happens to be and Orientation & Mobility Specialist.
And these young people wanted to go and learn more about their community college and they have a lot of learning to do. What did they need to say to the bus driver when he dropped them off that might have given them some guidance on where they could find a ramp, because this young lady can’t get up the stairs?
Thinking about rites of passage, for so many of our young people in the United States and Canada and other industrial countries getting that driver’s license is an indication of “Hey, I’ve become an adult.” But there are other ways to demonstrate that you’ve become an adult, so we work with the young people on that. So I’m going to turn it over to Bryan, who is going to talk with you about what you need to tell somebody about your visual impairment—so Bryan.

Bryan Duarte

Thank you, Penny. Yeah, this is a very important topic when you are independently traveling. It’s a functional needs statement. It’s what do you tell and when do you tell it. For example, when you are traveling publicly, walking, taking a bus, taking a taxi, there’s going to be times when you’re going to interact with people who have never assisted a blind person before. This is very important to have a functional needs statement to let them know that you need their assistance and how to do it, but not giving them too much information.

I’ll give you an example. Whenever I get on a public bus, I walk on the bus and I walk directly to the driver and I tell him “Excuse me, can you please help me locate my stop? I need to get off at Street Z and I can’t see the road signs very well, so I’m going to need you to let me know when I get there.”
Another example would be when you’re asking for a taxicab, maybe you’re calling a taxicab because it’s gotten late—you were at the mall and now the buses have quit running. A good way to do this is to say when you call the taxi company say, “Hello, my name is Bryan. I’m the north side of the Dillard’s at the Chandler Mall and I need a taxi. I’m wearing a bright red shirt; I have a long white cane and here’s my cell phone number. Can you let the driver know to give me a call when arrives, or honk, or to find me, because I won’t see him pull up, I have a visual impairment.”

Notice how in each scenario I gave you I didn’t say I was blind. I didn’t say I couldn’t see anything. I did this purposely because it leaves you less vulnerable if you don’t mention that you’re totally blind. It’s a good idea to let them know you can’t see, but if you leave it open it leaves you less vulnerable, because people don’t know what you can see, so that’s a good approach. And when you give a functional needs statement it’s important to give specific details, but you don’t need to give them a whole life’s story. Those are good things to keep in mind.

And with family and friends, they know you, it’ probably easiest to just let them know what you need, when you need it. Be humble, you don’t want to make them not want to go somewhere with you, but just let them know. If you could, go to the next slide, please.

In this slide we’re talking about Where You Live Can Make a Difference. Making a difference where you live is interesting if you have a way to plan where you’re going to live. For example, I just moved out of a house and I’m in a apartment currently, while we’re waiting for our new house to be built. And we moved into this apartment and I said, “You know, let me do some research, because I think I can get a bus route that will get me to school independently.” Whereas before I was having to rely on a ride back and forth and it was just getting too crazy.

So I did some research. I pulled up some Google sites and I said, “Okay look, there’s an apartment complex that runs on this road. And on that road there’s a bus that will take me directly to the light rail. Once I’m to the light rail I can catch the intercampus shuttle.” Well, we found an apartment on that route and guess what? That’s what I do every day and I can do it independently.

And yeah, I might be paying a little bit more in rent for the apartment currently, but you know what? The benefits of me being able to travel independently to and from school, to and from different locations, because I’m on a bus route is much more beneficial to me than to live somewhere that’s maybe a little cheaper, but didn’t have a bus route.
So I would encourage you if you’re planning on going to school, going to work somewhere and you’re leaving town or maybe you’re just relocating, to do some research. See if there’s a bus route, see if there’s stores, shopping centers, maybe a gym. I know that Penny’s interested in having a gym next to her and she found a place like that. Find these places that interest you, that you’re going to use a lot, and try to find a place next to those places.
For the next slide I’m going to turn it back over to Penny. Thank you.
Penny Rosenblum

Great and thank you, Bryan, you gave some great examples. And Bryan’s right. I like being near a gym. When my husband and I looked for our current house, I said to the realtor, “I need to be within four tenths of a mile of a bus stop on one of these four routes, because that’s as far in 110˚ weather as I’m willing to carry a bag full of books in a dress to go to the University and teach.” So we all have our different criteria for what’s important to us.

As I mentioned in my introduction to the curriculum, Finding Wheels, the meat of the curriculum, many people say, is the five units that focus on the different types of transportation that make up Section 3.

Unit 3, we call Personal Wheels, which focuses on walking and biking. Unit 4 is Public Wheels, buses, taxis and subways. Unit 5 is Specialized Wheels like paratransit. And paratransit is the little vans in most communities that have buses and trains that go on the same route as those buses and trains and are available to people with disabilities and people who are elderly. Also charity services come under specialized wheels and volunteer services. Your church, or your mosque or your temple may provide rides to people who can’t get to services, so we would consider that a volunteer service.

Hired Wheels is Unit 6, taxis and hiring drivers yourself. We’re not talking about asking a family member or a friend for a ride here, but rather we’re talking about actually advertising for and hiring a driver—exchanging money for transportation with some set rules. And then driving with bioptic telescope systems, which if you have low vision and you qualify, in about 42 states you can get licensed to drive with bioptics. I’m going to turn it back over to Bryan, who’s going to share a little bit with you about personal wheels.
And there’s a beautiful picture on the screen, before I turn this back Bryan, I just want to describe for you. This is a mom, who I met through a research study I did. And it shows her with her dog guide in her left hand, an infant strapped to her chest in an infant carrier. And with her right hand she is pulling a wagon with two children, her own child and I believe it was a niece or a nephew and they’re on a playground. And she shared with me when I spoke with her about how important it was to her that she had places that she could take her children to and be independent.
So Bryan, back to you for Personal Wheels.

Bryan Duarte

Thank you. For Personal Wheels, I’m going to give you a couple of advantages, disadvantages and some skills that are going to be useful for you. By personal wheels, I’m referring to walking or biking or any kind of method like that. Some advantages of this are it’s free. Another good advantage of this is you are independent; you’re not on anybody else’s schedule. And a third advantage to this is that you can get exercise. It is a huge health benefit to walk and in a way you get out into society, you get to interact with people.

Some disadvantages of this are it takes a long time. You can’t travel as far if you’re just walking or biking—you might be maxed out at a mile or something like that. And the third one is that you really are kind of vulnerable out there. You’re by yourself. You could get lost and that’s never comforting.

Some good skills to have when you’re doing personal travel are to let somebody know when and where you’re going. You know, plan your trip ahead of time and make sure that you have some supplies with you, maybe a cell phone or a GPS. It could be some extra cab money. It could be an umbrella if you’re planning on it raining. It could be a jacket or anything like that. But make sure you have some things with you that are some useful supplies. Could I get to the next slide, please?
For Public Wheels, I’m referring to something like a public bus, a subway, a light rail or maybe even paratransit methods like, for us I think it’s called Dial-A-Ride. I think it might be called Sun Van in other places or whatever. But these are your public bus systems; these are your public systems that anybody can take. And it is important to have some good ideas of how to use them.
So some advantages are you can travel farther. You can interact with society. There are people you can ask directions—I love to do that. And it’s relatively cheap. Compared to gas prices right now, we’re getting the better end of the deal. Some disadvantages of this are, you are on somebody else’s schedule; you have to rely on the bus. Is it going to be on time? You have to rely on the subway or the light rail. Is it going to be on time?
And another thing is, is that you really are vulnerable when you’re out in public. You’re on a public bus, people can see that you have either a cane or a guide dog and they know that you’re blind. For a female I can imagine it could be pretty vulnerable.

But there are ways around this. And some tips I can give you are: 1) Talk to the bus driver. Let him know that you’re blind. 2) Sit up front. 3) Another thing is to make sure you have your supplies with you still. 4) Let somebody know when you’re leaving. Let them know the route you’re planning on taking and when you plan on being home. Let that be your back door, if you will.

5) It’s a good idea to learn some self defense if you can and also maybe carry pepper spray—that’s a good way to do it. 6) And the biggest thing you can do is make sure to plan your trip ahead of time. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to plan your trip. Do your research. Call the location. These are all good ideas when you’re public traveling. Next slide, please.
Penny Rosenblum

Dawn, before we start talking about Specialized Wheels, let’s just go ahead and take maybe two questions, Dawn, so I’ll let you run that for us.

Dawn Turco

Okay folks, we’re going to open up the microphone now and I saw a hand go up already, so let me hand it over. We’re about half way through our time, but I would like to see if anybody’s got a question.


Hi, it’s Alissa from Niagara Falls, Canada. We cannot take specialized transit here if you’re blind in Canada. You have to have another reason to take it besides being blind, unfortunately here in the Province of Ontario.

Penny Rosenblum

Thanks for sharing that and that’s a great point. I was going to get ready to talk about specialized wheels here in just a second. And I was going to say being visually impaired in most communities is not a criteria. You have to have difficulty getting to or from the bus stop in most communities to qualify; visual impairment alone is not enough. Dawn I’ll turn it back to you to take one more question if we have one.

Dawn Turco

I was reading a message in the text box. Deanna was saying that she traveled with a baby in a carrier. She was talking about using a bike cart of some sort to help with the groceries and what have you. I was looking back at the bike cart question and it was also good for the kids when they got tired of walking. And I too, used some baskets actually on my bike and I tried to have one on each side of the back wheel trying to go grocery shopping. And it was always an interesting experience trying to balance out my groceries for the trip home.

Penny Rosenblum

Well, we have a lot more to cover, Dawn, so I think we’re going to go ahead and move on to specialized wheels and let people think about their questions and we’ll take questions again here in a little bit.

As we heard from our friend Hildie in Canada, specialized wheels, these are vans—again different names in different communities, but it’s basically door to door service. It comes to one place and drops you off at the other place, which can be a real advantage. Disadvantages of this method of travel are that you typically have to schedule way in advance, anywhere from 24 hours to a week, depending on the community.
It is a shared ride service, so you’re going to have different people getting on and off. So you may only be going five miles, but it make take 45 minutes. And most services will only take you to the door, so you have to be able to get into where you’re going and navigate the rest of the way. As we already pointed out, you may or may not qualify just based on a visual impairment.
And you have to really allocate sufficient time when using this method of travel. Most companies will give you what they call a ‘pick up window’ or a ‘time window’ where they’ll say “We’ll pick up anywhere between 8:45 and 9:15,” and then again, if your appointment’s not until 10:15, they may drop you off at 9:20 or they may drop you off at 10:05, so you have to allocate for time. Next slide, please, Dawn.
We are going to be talking about Hired Wheels. This might be taking a taxi; it might be hiring a driver to take you from Point A to Point B. People often say “Oh my gosh! This is so expensive. I never could afford to do this.”

And I encourage you to sit down with a couple of people who are drivers and to ask them how much their car payment is a month, how much their insurance is a month, how much their gas is a month, how much their maintenance is a month, how much their registration or property taxes are a month, and you’ll find out for most drivers it’s $800 – $1,000 U.S. a month. So if you think about that, taking cabs sometimes are not as expensive as you think if you’re buying a bus pass and taking a cab and those are your only expenses in the month.

Advantages of a hired driver, whether it’s a cab or a person you hired is you get to go just like you would in a car. You leave at the same time; you get to the same place. You can build a schedule the way it works for you.
Disadvantages can be the expense. When you’re hiring a cab, especially if you have just called into dispatch, you have no idea who’s going to come and you’re the only person in that cab with that person, you could feel uncomfortable. You’re depending on somebody else’s driving skills. Unlike a bus or a train driver who has to get a specialized license, you’re going with anybody who has any license. It’s challenging to find a qualified driver and if we go to the next slide, I have a little bit about that, so next slide, Dawn.
So when you’re looking to hire a driver, there’s a lot to be thinking about. One of the things to think about is how you’re going to advertise. I personally don’t recommend advertising in the paper or on Craigslist. I tend to go with people I know, saying “Hey, do you know anybody who might be interested?”
You need to interview the person. Find out if you’re comfortable with them, what their skills are, what their schedule is. You need to negotiate ahead of time how much you’re going to pay the driver. Are you going to pay them for waiting time or are you only going to pay them for time that they’re driving?
You need to think about who’s going to pay for gas. Whose car do you use? If you own a car or your family owns a car, are you going to use your family’s car or are you going to expect the driver to use their car? Who’s going to have responsibility for planning the route if you have four or five places to go? Whose job is it to figure out what’s the most efficient way for me to get my things done?

Think about what does the driver do when you get to a destination. I hire drivers periodically to help me get to schools where I’m supervising student teachers. For a long time I had a wonderful driver, a retired lady, who loved taking me to the very rural schools in our state. She’d bring her bicycle and she’d go for an hour or two or three hour bike ride, depending on how long I was going to be in the school.

Think about who pays for meals if you’re going to have a driver for a long period of time. And then the really challenging part—how do you fire a driver when it’s not working? So these are just some of the things that you need to think about.

Dawn we’re going to go ahead and keep going and we’ll just take some questions at the end. So I’m going to go to the next slide.

When we think about being an independent nondriver, that’s the focus of the fourth section of Finding Wheels—so funding your wheels, using wheels efficiently, how do you gather your resources? As Bryan said, he looked for an apartment that was going to be on his bus route. Thinking about how you’re going to cope with nondriving. What do you do when your driver doesn’t show up, your bus is late. Interpersonal relationships; you don’t want to be a burden to people. How do you ask and not over ask?
And public behaviors, what’s appropriate to do on a bus? What’s not appropriate to do? Don’t tell somebody your life’s story. So let’s turn it back to Bryan, who’s going to talk to us about planning your trip.
Bryan Duarte

Thank you, Penny. For the next slide it’s going to be talking about Planning Your Trip. And if I haven’t said it before, this is probably one of the most important things you can do no matter what kind of travel method you’re taking—if you’re taking a bus, a light rail, if you’re taking a paratransit, if you’re taking a taxicab. These are all important for different reasons.

You need to know where you’re going. You have to be able to plan your trip. To do this is very simple, use the resources you have. You have a phone, you might have a computer, do a web search, find out the address, find out the location. For example what I do when I’m planning a trip to a new place, I will call the Valley Metro, which is the bus system here and I will do a search on where to go. Where does the bus pick up? Where does the bus drop off? What times will the buses be there? How often does the bus run? Things like that.

Once I have that information I will turn around and I will call the actual physical building of where I plan to go, if it’s a store, a restaurant, it could be a school or whatever. I will call them and I will ask them very specific questions. I will say “What corner are you on? How far from the corner are you? How far in from the street are you? Are there buildings next to you that I might run into? Is there anything that I need to be aware of?
And by doing this you decrease the chances that you might get lost. You decrease the chance that you won’t find the destination and you greatly increase the success of your independent travel. It’s very simple to do and I encourage that everybody does it.
The other thing I want to say is possibly have a cell phone or some kind of GPS system with you. I don’t use it necessarily while I’m traveling or walking, because I do have to listen to it, but I do like to have one that will allow me to find out where I am. That’s a good thing for you to have because sometimes when you’re out traveling you might lose track of where exactly you are if you’re not along a main road.

The other thing is to make sure you have your supplies. I’ve said this a couple of times already, but it’s very important. I strongly encourage you that if you’re leaving your house anytime going traveling to take a backpack. In your backpack have a charger for your cell phone. Make sure you have a cell phone. Take a spare cane if you have one. Take a jacket if you might need it. And umbrella’s a good thing to take.

In my backpack I take Dixon’s water bowl. I take a bottle of water or two. I take some snacks that I might need. I have my phone charger. I have different things like that, different tools that might come in handy—a spare cane. And also have taxicab money on you, have a couple spare dollars in case you go somewhere and you run out of time, the buses quit running, maybe you end up lost somewhere, you can call a taxi and use your GPS to find out where you are and then have the taxi come there.

And another thing about planning is to let somebody know. Let somebody know where you’re going, when you plan on leaving, maybe even call them before you leave. And also have a backup plan. If you get somewhere and you find out you were supposed to be there for two hours and now you know you’re going to leave in 30 minutes, have a backup plan. Maybe you don’t want to go home, but make sure you have somebody that can pick you up or have money for a taxi.
For the next slide, I’m going to turn it back over to Penny. Thank you.
Penny Rosenblum

Great. And before I talk about low vision nondrivers, Dawn, I’m going to just change it up a little bit here. I saw two comments or questions in the chat window and I will address those and I think I’m going to go ahead and let people ask some questions, just to give you a heads up.

Holly asks can having issues with locating a bus stop justify use of specialized wheels like paratransit. And Holly, yes, in many communities it can. I can speak to Tucson, Arizona. If somebody applies for paratransit services in our community they have to go through an evaluation process. If they’re visually impaired it’s actually done by a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist. And if the person does not have the skills, has difficulty getting to a bus stop, then that would qualify them.
And Hildie makes a comment about next stop announcements on buses. Many buses now are coming with GPSs already on them and so the GPS will call out the stops. This is a great service, however be careful. Sometimes they can be about a quarter of a mile off. They’re getting better, so you might want to kind of check in with the driver and still let the driver know what stop you want to get off at.

A trick I always use, I will Map Quest to see how long it’s going to take a regular driver to drive from Point A where I’m getting picked up to Point B where I want to get dropped off. And let’s say Map Quest tells me in a car that’s going to be 20 minutes. At about 15 minutes when I’m on the bus, I will say to the driver, “Are we getting close to the intersection of such and such and such and such?” That way I kind of remind the driver I’m there. So that’s a trick that works for me.

And I’ve got a question here from Teresa about how do you check the background of a potential driver. Teresa, the same way I check to see who I’m going to have do my roof and which company I’m going to go with is the strategy I use. So I ask for references. As an individual person I don’t believe I could run a background check on somebody, but I do ask for references and I do call the reference person and find out what that person is like.

And I think having in your phone, they call it ICE, many of our phones have ICE, In Case of Emergency numbers. Put that ICE person in there. And I really like that Teresa keeps a few dollars tucked away in her wallet. I do the same thing. I do not leave home without $40. Personally in my community $40 will get me anywhere I need to go in a taxicab.

So great comments here and questions. I’m going to let Dawn see if we have any other questions and then I’m going to talk about Low Vision Driving. And we’ll take some questions again at the end.
Dawn Turco

Great catching us up, Penny and I too, have that $50 dollar bill tucked away in the wallet. And the only thing I’m going to add is for those folks who are regularly using public transportation; an O&M friend of mine recommends what she calls a taxi or bus wallet. This way you’re not flashing your entire wallet and everything that’s in it around in the public. You keep your money or your pass for whatever transit system you’re using. You keep it a little bit separate from the rest of what you have and that’s her tip.

I’m opening up the mic and if I don’t see a hand, I’m going to say let’s get rolling again.


Yes, hi. This is a wonderful presentation. I live in an area where frequently the actual address of a destination has nothing to do with where the taxi or driver or whatever would let you off. Sometimes it can even be on the other side of a block, I mean on a parallel block. And I was wondering aside from trying to learning any other landmarks… I was wondering if this is something you’ve all discussed in some of the curricula. Thank you.

Penny Rosenblum

No, I really haven’t done that Margaret. I think that it’s important, and Bryan alluded to this, that you call the business ahead of time and ask specific questions. And in 30 seconds I’m going to try and tell a story. Years ago I was going to the podiatrist and I called and said “Please tell me about your building and how far are you from the intersection, and what color are you, and do you have a sign?

I asked all these questions having explained that I have a visual impairment and then I showed up on my bicycle and she looked at me and she said, “I thought you couldn’t see and you’re riding a bicycle.” So I think the more explicit information you have that you can communicate to the bus driver, the taxi driver or whoever it is, is important. Different communities have pretty bizarre numbering systems.
And you know, you could also think, too about whether you can ask somebody from that business to come out and meet you potentially. “Can I call you on my cell phone when I’m arriving? Would you meet me?”
Okay, let’s see if we have one more question.
Dawn Turco

I’m looking at the clock. No hands up. Let’s go.

Penny Rosenblum

Okay, some of you may have some usable vision, so I briefly wanted to talk about optical aids to be used during travel. So I have a picture of a young woman with albinism using a monocular. This is a young woman who lives in a very rural community. And her O&M instructor brought she and several other young people into the city of Phoenix to give them an opportunity to do some bus travel. Next slide, please.

When you are thinking about optical aids, you want to think about having your device readily available. As Dawn was talking about your having a bus wallet, the same type of thing, have your monocular or your magnifier, whatever tools you use, and this could go for other tools as well, your GPS, you cell phone, have those where you’re not routing around in your bag looking for stuff. That makes you vulnerable.

Think about how you’re going to use your tools during travel. Are you going to need to review a bus schedule and so you’re going to need a magnifier. Are you going to need directions when you’re doing things during travel? So again, where are those directions; where is that tool? Thinking about a destination, are you going to be shopping. I have a picture of a young woman using a little Optelec mini magnifying device, a little portable CCTV, video magnifier. She’s buying a card for her dad in a store.
Thinking about restaurants, ordering, thinking about looking at museum displays and other things. So what tools do you need? I have picture of an elementary aged child at our gem and mineral show with her magnifier looking at different rocks. She loves the rocks. Next slide, please.
So when we’re thinking about what magnification is best for you, I very much encourage you to get a clinical low vision evaluation by an ophthalmologist or optometrist specializing in low vision. Keep in mind that the stronger the degree of magnification the smaller the field that you’re going to see.
And the picture shows a young woman using a monocular to read a menu that’s up on the wall in a restaurant. Also keep in mind that monoculars, telescopes are meant for stationary tasks, such as the one in picture, where she’s looking at a menu. These tools do not work well when you’re moving, so that’s another consideration. Next slide, please.
As I mentioned earlier about 40 states allow you to drive with bioptic telescopic systems or BTSs. You have to have a good central acuity and you also have to have a pretty intact field of vision to be able to use this tool. And in the picture—there are three pictures at the bottom of the screen and they’re used to illustrate that a bioptic telescope system only lets you see a small amount of what’s out there.

So there’s a green road sign, telling what road goes to the left and what road goes to the right. And I just have a black circle on two of those signs showing you with different types of bioptics, a 5-degree bioptic and a 12-degree bioptic, how much of the sign you can see and it’s not very much.

So the person who’s using one of these bioptic telescope systems, which are basically little telescopes mounted in prescription glasses, most of the time the person is going to be using the glasses, the regular glasses that they would use. And then they’re going to look up or down, depending on where the bioptic is placed to be able to see through the telescope, primarily for spotting—so to look at signs, to look at ongoing traffic to see how many lanes there are. But you’re not going to be driving with the bioptic.
In most states you have to go through a process where you get specialized training. You take a road test that’s more involved than your typical road test for the Department of Motor Vehicles. And in many states there are different types of licenses, so you may be able to get a driver’s license, but you’re restricted to no interstate driving. Or you may have a daytime only use license, so it’s going to vary. Next slide, please, Dawn.
So when you’re thinking about how can I maximize what vision I have during travel, whether we’re talking about getting a magnifier for near, a monocular to do some distance viewing, potentially getting the bioptics, you need to think about working with your eye care specialist to figure out what’s going to work best for you. You cannot, and my husband does not understand this, you cannot go to Sportsman’s Warehouse and say “Look, Darlin’, there’s a whole row of those monocular things. You could just by one here for half price.”

You need as a person with low vision to get a specialized one. If you are thinking about potentially being a bioptic driver, long before you get to the point where you’re actually driving the car, there’s a lot of skills to learn, including focusing, and spotting, and scanning, and tracking using that bioptic telescope. One suggestion that I’ve read about is for you actually to sit behind the driver in the car, so you’re kind of in line with what the driver is seeing and practice your skills from that position.

Think about using your optical aids in many different environments so that you get practice with them. I take my monocular if I go to play or a concert. And then also think about seeking out others who use these tools. You can get a lot of good ideas from talking to other people about how they use them, what works for them, where do they store them. And then always make sure you have your optical aids available.
When I travel I have a purse that’s like a backpack and it has three pockets on the outside. And put my little Optelec mini portable video magnifier in one of them. I put my monocular in another one of them and I put my cell phone in another one. And I really like Dawn’s idea of a little travel wallet. I usually put my travel money in my pocket, but I think I’m going to be adopting the travel money idea. Okay, next slide, please.
And I just wanted to mention the curriculum Reclaiming Independence. This is a 42 minute video that I developed with the American Printing House for the Blind. For those of you who are in the professional field this available on Federal Quota, so if your school or agency is getting Federal Quota funding you may get this video. The video also comes with a Resource Guide. And in the video we introduce six nondrivers and I have pictures of three of them here on the screen.
Josephine, I alluded to her at the beginning. She is the woman who lives on an island in rural Maine. Gets a ride to the ferry terminal, takes the ferry across to the mainland and has learned which communities have buses and vans that meet the ferry on different days and really has planned her life that way. I have to tell you Josephine is now 86 and sends me a Christmas card every year. She’s just a delight.

Wilbur is pictured coming off of a city bus. He’s living outside of Washington, D.C. He rides the Metro. He uses the bus. He takes taxis to get to many places. And he shares in vignette in the video about getting rides from a lot of people and that periodically he’ll invite people over to the house for a meal.

And I think it’s real important regardless of who’s helping you with transportation that you think about how you can reciprocate. And we really didn’t touch on that today, but that’s an important piece. A lot of people won’t take gas money from you, but treat them to a meal. Buy them tickets to a baseball game. What can you do to let that person know that you appreciate the travel?
The bottom left picture shows Johnny out with his cane and actually walking his dog. And Johnny walks six to ten miles a day. Now this is not a dog guide, this is just a family dog. But he talks about when he first started losing his vision and how depressed he was. And he told his wife, “Might as well be dead.” And now how after he got Orientation & Mobility Training he wants to go everywhere, and he really does. He rides the light rail, he takes the bus, he takes taxis, he walks a lot.
And I think that’s the big message of Reclaiming Independence. Giving up your driver’s license is very traumatic, if you’ve been driving for 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 years. And you can curl up into a ball and life can be over or you can go out and get the skills that you need to travel in a different way, but to still be independent.
The next slide provides my contact information and Bryan’s contact information. Dawn if you’ll bring that up. And I will just read this out briefly. It will also again be in the handout that will get posted.
I’m Penny Rosenblum. I’m at the University of Arizona. My email address is And my number is (520) 621-1223.
Bryan Duarte. His email address is (480) 652-3045.

And we have about five minutes left for questions, so Dawn I’ll be turning it back to you. And folks if you have a question specifically for Bryan, he also is very happy to answer questions, so let us know who the question is for. Thank you.

Dawn Turco

Teresa is asking what you do when you live in a town with almost no sidewalks.

Penny Rosenblum

Teresa, that’s a tough one. I would say that you need to definitely have a cane. If there is shoulder, I would think about walking on the shoulder for sure, if at all possible. Always walk towards traffic, so you’re more visible to the traffic. Think about wearing light colored clothing. And if all that truly is not an option and walking is just not in the options for you, then think about using some of these other methods of travel.

We have time for just another question or two and then I need to close this up.
Dawn Turco

Goodness gracious, the hour is up and I want to take this opportunity to thank both Bryan and Penny for an absolutely fabulous presentation today. I’m going to turn the microphone back to each of you to say your adieus. And if you had any last thought that you wanted to get into the recording, this is the opportunity, then I’ll formally close the seminar.

Penny Rosenblum

Okay, Bryan I’ll let you share your thoughts and then I can go ahead and close up for us, so go ahead Bryan.

Bryan Duarte

Thank you all. Thank you for listening. I hope the information I provided to you and the tips and how-to’s that I gave you were useful. And I look forward to hearing from you guys. Feel free to email me or give me a call if you have questions. Thank you and you Hadley and Dawn.

Penny Rosenblum

Excellent, thanks Bryan. The same for me, I would be happy to email or speak with any of you. I think it’s important, we all have different experiences. I’ve been reading here about Teresa and Zoey talking about the challenges of having people that are running you off the road.

We all live in different communities, but I think the message that I’d like to leave with all of you is there are options in your community and being a little creative. You know, it might be babysitting for somebody’s kids after school if that person has to work late in exchange for them giving you a ride to the grocery store on Saturday. There’s a lot of creative ways that you can work transportation in. Don’t be afraid to ask. The worst somebody’s going to say is no. And don’t for get to find ways to say thank you and reciprocate.

Dawn thank you very much for inviting Bryan and I to be a part of another seminar at Hadley. It’s a great service and I enjoyed being here. Thank you.
Dawn Turco

Well, you two made a great duo and I know I thoroughly enjoyed listening. I was relating to a good deal of it as was I relating to those who had comments. And I hope everybody picked up something today.

If you’d like to listen to this seminar again or recommend it to a friend, the recorded version of this seminar, along with the resource list that Penny mentioned, and the slide presentation, they’ll all be posted in the Past Seminars room on Hadley’s website. So you go to and follow the Seminars@Hadley link; go to Past Seminars and we’ll get it there probably in a day or two. We just do a little clean up of the recording and then post it. It is there for your enjoyment 24-7. And lots of folks are finding our Past Seminars room, so consider that.
You’ve got contact information for both Penny and Bryan. If you have comments that you’d like to get to Hadley, we have a specific email for that. It’s
The resources that Penny mentioned and has authored, they’re wonderful. We highly recommend them. We also have a course at Hadley called Going Places. So we have drawn from Penny’s materials and have a Certified O&M Instructor teaching that course. So if you’d kind of like some back and forth with an instructor you can go take a look at Going Places. And a second course of interest I posted in the text room, Personal Safety, is another good companion to this topic.
Wonderful presentation. I thank you again. I will formally close today’s seminar. And I look forward to seeing you in the future seminars at Hadley. Thank you, everyone.

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