Sendero Group Travel Blog

Follow Sendero travelers on their adventures using accessible GPS.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Using BrailleNote GPS to assist blind rock climbing instructors

From: Dan Kish
I agree with Mike whole-heartedly. It is one thing to have the skills to
successfully problem solve one's way through a desert of confusing or
lacking information. Good travelers can do this, but at a significant cost.
It is quite another to conduct one's affairs gracefully, more
independently, and relatively stress free with the same access to the same
information that everyone else has. There's a reason for location
information for sighted people - it makes life a lot easier and more
straightforward. If it didn't, they wouldn't have it. Blind people benefit
in all the same ways that sighted people benefit with the right location
information, and they suffer in all the same ways that sighted people would
if they didn't have it.

Here's a good example - Some of my Instructional Coaches are good Braille
Note GPS users. I had them accompany me on a mission through one of our
County parks to find and mark, using GPS, trees and rock cliffs suitable
for climbing for some of our younger students. There are whole groves of
trees and hundreds of meters of rock cliffs, so I wanted to narrow things
down before bringing the students. Not only did we mark suitable climbing
environments so we could find them again later with minimal guessing and
stress, but we also marked the main entrance to the park, and other key
areas. Each of the 3 of us are extremely accomplished travelers, and among
the 3 of us, we have more than enough skill to find our way around any
environment as needed. However, it was just positively blissful to be able
to walk around the whole park freely, always knowing that we could find our
way back in a relaxed way. When we were ready to return to the entrance, we
just let GPS point the way, and were comfortably free to encounter and
enjoy many aspects of the park that we might not otherwise have
encountered. Location information gives a whole dimension of comfort,
confidence, and independence to the travel experience, no matter how good
you are at it. I hear sighted people complain bitterly every time they
enter an area with poor signage. I just shake my head with a smile and say
"welcome to my world."

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