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Kent Association for the Blind

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Many blind and partially sighted people travel safely outdoors. If you decide you want to be able to travel outside of the home, a KAB Mobility Officer will be able to provide the training and recommendations you need to stay safe.

Mobility OutsideKAB Mobility Officers can give you advice about using a cane when you're out, and which type of cane would suit you best. A cane informs other pedestrians and drivers that your sight is impaired and can help you locate obstacles in your path and changes in surface level such as kerbs and steps. There are different types of cane available and each one has a different purpose. Some types of cane can only be used after you've received training from a Mobility Officer.

Read our Frequently Asked Questions to find out more about the different types of cane that are available.

Using a long cane to be independently mobile outdoors is challenging and it can take several months of working with a KAB Mobility Officer to really feel safe and confident. But once you do, you will be able to build on the skills to learn new routes and will have much greater independence.

When using a long cane as a mobility aid people rely on kerbs to warn them that they are about to step into the road. Where there is an absence of a kerb to accommodate wheelchair users, there will be pimple-textured paving as a warning to long cane users. Remember though, the absence of a kerb does not mean it is necessarily safe to cross the road! Sometimes, dropped kerbs are on a corner, which is the most dangerous place to cross for a person with limited or no vision. Take advice from your KAB Mobility Officer on the safest routes for you.

When using controlled pedestrian crossings, you may just be able to see the red or green man across the road. If not, try using the illuminated "wait" signal on the control box; when it goes out it is safe to cross. At some crossings you may have an audible "bleep" but not all crossings will have these. There is usually a tactile cone fitted to the underside of the control box that rotates when it's safe to cross which is useful people who have sight and hearing impairments.

If you find a walking stick helps give you support, make sure yours is the right height for you; sticks of the wrong height can cause back and neck pain. Refer to a KAB worker for advice. If you think you'll be returning after dark, avoid dark clothing. Wear light clothes and a bright reflective armband. Wear a cap, eyeshade or tinted glasses to reduce glare. Consider using a distance viewing aid (called a monocular or telescope) to see bus numbers and street names.

Kent Karrier is a fully accessible dial-a-ride service which takes its members directly from their door to the nearest town centre. Membership is £5 per year, with a small fee payable for each journey. Find out more about Kent Karrier.

Your KAB Mobility Officer will help you to learn specific routes and will show you how landmarks, like a tree or a lamppost, that can help with orientation. They can also help you to make the most of your hearing to interpret the sounds around you; the sound of water from a fountain or the smell of bread from a bakery might be also useful in locating your position; remember though, these can only act as clues as they may not always be present.

The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee have produced a transport and travel website for disabled people giving advice about using all forms of transport.

A range of Assistive Technology is available that has been created to help people navigate their way in the street.

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