Posted at 09:59h
As the school year begins, there are many things to do, but one of the most important at the beginning is getting our children familiar with their surroundings so they can walk anywhere they need, safely.
Ideally, they can come in before school begins the school year. That way it is quiet uninterrupted time for them to focus. I meet them in the office and we start walking to their room. As we walk, I have them touch easily identifiable parts of the wall, as my elementary kids, I know, will be running into them periodically and I want things familiar. I point out the water fountain and they take a drink feeling everything around it. The bathrooms are usually right next to it, but I want to keep them focused on walking directly to their room.
When we get to the room, I have them start at the perimeter, walking all around it, feeling all major obstacles and how to get around them when they come to them: Like the dictionary cart that protrudes about 2 yards from one wall, or where the teacher's desk area is and how to walk on the outside of it and around to the next wall. Then I have them go to the middle of the length of the wall (every wall) and walk from side to side so they get the idea of the length straight across and how big the room is. Then they start at the front of the room and walk through touching each desk so they know all placements. The names of the students will be on the desk, so they can learn where "Bobbi" or "Suzy" is sitting. At last, they will practice going from the front door to their locker, to their seat. From the teacher's desk to their seat. From Bobbi's seat to their seat and so on.
Then we walk back to the office and redo those steps until I can say, "OK, I will meet you at your room,” and they meet me there by themselves. When they do this successfully, we work on the bathrooms if they are not in the room, the cafeteria, library and so on in the building. Practicing one path at a time until success, then adding more. Then we go outside and practice these redundant skills until they are comfortable walking anywhere in and outside of school. This usually occurs over several days and that is best for their knowledge base to grow accordingly.
I am not O&M certified but I have been in so many areas where there were none. Fortunately, I have many classes in O&M and only lack a few credits from certification. I believe all Teachers of the blind need this type of background so if there is no one, we can at least be teaching the basics so our children can get to where they need to go, with confidence and safety.