“The ability to travel safely, comfortably, gracefully, and
independently … is a factor of primary importance in the life of a
blind individual.” [Mayer-Foulkes, B. and Miranda-Galarza, B. (2013)]
“One of the most fundamental parts of a blind child’s training is the development of independent travel skills. Without these skills, the blind child is placed in a position of being dependent on others for inclusion in daily activities. As a result, we find a direct correlation between the acquisition of independent travel skills and the development of self-confidence.”[Fredric K. Schroeder, 2008]
“It is a known scientific fact that both animals and human beings all develop navigational abilities through practice and exploration. However, blind and partially sighted individuals are frequently told that free and safe ability for independent navigation is out of their bounds. That their capacities for free and safe movement is restricted by the complete or partial loss of vision.” [R. Ryles,(2008)]
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 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 the cane into your belly when the cane gets caught in cracks or obstacles while walking. To reduce pressure on wrist, fingers and elbows, it is held 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 feel embarrassed of being seen with the White-Cane, due to negative reactions of the public. They are frequently discouraged from using their Canes by friends and families. Making them relinquish the use of the cane and encouraging them to fold up their canes and hide them away. Thereby depriving themselves the benefit of navigational freedom that the use of their Cane brings. All this because of the disabled blind identity that is traditionally associated with the White-Cane. We need to change this damaging perception, both amongst blind people and in society in general.
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.
Inclusive Mobility is a model developed by Thomas Tajo and Marjolein Van Laere, which is a mixed model that takes the best out of both the Perceptual navigation model of World Access for the Blind (An organisation founded by Daniel Kish) and the Structured Discovery model of National Federation of the Blind and more.
Steatornis / Norway
Reverso / Spain
Fairnbeziehung / Germany
National Association of the Blind / Italy
OFID / India