Inclusive Mobility

Perceptual and navigational workshops

Approach: skills and techniques

We believe in the inherent capacity of blind and partially sighted individuals to navigate freely and safely on their own by encouraging free exploration through appropriate early sensory and perceptual training in order to develop spatial sensing abilities.  

Our Inclusive Mobility program is based on scientifically approved, up-to-date and cost-effective perceptual tools such as echolocation and the use of the long cane. Tailored to meet the unique individual needs, it seeks to extend the auditory and tactual perception of blind people to a spatial awareness, in order to detect dangers from a distance and allow for enough time to take appropriate decisions to safely and gracefully avoid obstacles. Our mission is to equip blind and partially blind individuals around the world with effective mobility skills to boost confidence in their ability to venture into any environment. 

“Independent navigation is a complex activity. It requires integration of multi-sensory informations” [Garcia S, et al 2015]

Echolocation

Echolocation is a technique whereby we send out echo-signals out into the world in the form of crisptongue-clicks. Listening to the echos or acoustic reflections of these palatal clicks, echolocating individuals can form three dimensional images of objects, recognise material properties of these objects and build mental images of surrounding environments.

Echolocation allows us to detect obstacles in our path. It allows us to obtain information about the distance to the object, how near or far, where it is, left or right, in front or behind, above or below. Echolocation allows us to discriminate and differentiate between objects, recognising their shape and size, their density and physical properties, soft or hard, made our of wood, metal or glass. 

Echolocation enables individuals to obtain three dimensional spatial information beyond our reach of the close tactual senses. It allows us to acquire spatial landmarks at distances beyond the reach of the longest usable cane. Echolocation introduces an allothetic navigation skill, previously thought impossible for the blind because of their lack of vision. Enabling blind individuals to venture out beyond the narrow spatial confines of their homes and neighbourhoods gives the ability to move out into the wider spaces of the world. 

The Long Cane

Long Cane training improves idiothetic navigational skills. The Long cane allows blind and partially sighted individuals to have a wider tactual reach. It enables users to detect obstacles and pitfalls around them far in advance and low on the ground.

The length of the Long Cane ideally reaches to the chin/ ear/ nose of the user. It is particularly light and therefore makes for flexibility and easy manoeuvrability.  The Long cane is also held on the side: where your hands naturally fall when standing and walking. This avoids ramming canes into bellies of others while walking and the cane being caught in cracks or obstacles. To reduce pressure on wrist, fingers and elbows it is gripped between fingers and thumb, without the index finger trailing down the shaft of the cane [as it is traditionally taught].

Often blind and partially sighted individuals are embarrassed of being seen with the White-Cane. By the negative reaction of the public. They are frequently discouraged from using their Canes by friends and families. Making them relinquish the use of the cane. Forcing them to fold up their canes and hide them away. Because of the disabled blind identity that is traditionally associated with the White-Cane. Thus depriving themselves the benefit of navigational freedom that the use of cane brings. We need to change this damaging perception, both amongst blind people and in society in general.

Mission

In the Inclusive Mobility program we take into account all factors that are essential to get blind and partially sighted individuals, up and moving, freely and safely on their own. This not only includes introducing and imparting new mobility and orientation tools and techniques like Long Cane and Echolocation, equipping them with better perceptual tools and techniques drastically extends the spatial perception of blind and partially sighted individuals and improving and upgrading the limited perceptual skills that are traditionally provided to blind and partially sighted individuals for decades under the traditional mobility and orientation approach. The Inclusive Mobility training also involves de-stigmatising useful assistive technologies, such as the cane. Resolving emotional difficulties associated with partial or total loss of vision and dealing with the cultural baggages that often comes with blindness but also intersectional issues  of gender, race, poverty, sexual-orientation etc. are essential to the work we do. Our mission is to truly empower blind and partially sighted individuals to take control of their own movements, to enjoy life and contribute to society.

Thomas Tajo offers one-on-one as well as group workshops in echo location, or click sonar. He is a specialist and expert in this technique and regularly teaches in the framework of ‘World Access For The Blind’ (An organisation founded by Daniel Kish).

Marjolein Van Laere offers workshop in echo location and perceptual mobility training.

International partners:

Steatornis / Norway

Reverso / Spain

Fairnbeziehung / Germany

National Association of the Blind / Italy

OFID / India