Walking with low vision, by Jim Cameron.
“Walking gives me mobility, independence and keeps me active, but with low vision it puts constraints on where I can walk and do it safely without taking unnecessary risks. I did have a Drivers Licence many years ago and rode a bicycle, so I am familiar with traffic and an awareness of driver behaviour. I acknowledge many people with no or low vision may never have had the visual capacity to drive a car or even ride a bicycle, so walking on footpaths etc., will be an acquired skill.
I live in a location where the public transport, shops and services I need are either within a 20 minute walk, or 20 minute walk and bus trip, so walking is an obvious choice particularly when the buses and trains run to a frequent timetable. As an adventurous person, I set myself challenges to maintain my ability to enjoy different places like beaches, South Bank etc. So, with declining vision, the challenge becomes even more important. It means managing the risks and being aware of the new ones as they emerge. “
” When I am out walking, I follow the rules I have set myself so I arrive safely and within the estimated time. The list rules I have set are simple and self-explanatory.
- Know the route you are taking
- Take the extra time to take safer route
- Use the pedestrian and controlled crossings
- Stay on the footpath and avoid unpaved surfaces
- Keep to the left
- Footpaths are popular with skateboarders, mums pushing prams etc.
- Know the sections that require extra care e.g. stairs, overhanging branches etc.
- Use the footpath markings and tactile surfaces at road crossings
- Be cautious when the footpath is also an entrance or exit from service stations, off street parking at retail strips
- Maintain an awareness of where you are and what to expect so you do not become disoriented
- If a dog or a young child approach you, stop and wait for the owner or the parent to resolve the situation
- Pay attention to mobility scooters, as some users are going too fast or not paying attention to what they are doing.
In recent years, the councils have made real progress on developing footpaths for everyone particularly in developed areas. The footpaths are wider and well maintained to be accessible to all, and it is now possible to have extended walks to popular locations and stop over at a café or in a park for a break. I do make mistakes and find myself in the wrong place, and backtracking to where the section I missed, e.g. entrances, turn offs. Destinations include Brisbane to Portside via New farm, Sandgate to Shorncliffe, Redcliffe to Scarborough, the broad walks at Mooloolaba, Caloundra, Noosa and others on the Gold Coast. And there are to be walks in your local area as well. There is a walking group where it is also a social outing. So, join us.”
This story was provided with permission by Jim Cameron via the Blind Ones. To find out about Blind Ones and support their work, you can find then on Facebook