I was at my post at the mall Customer Service desk today when a boy in his late teens or early 20s walked by tapping a white cane--the international symbol of blindness. Every so often he'd stop, cock his head, and listen to what was going on before he started walking again. Trailing behind him was a man with a clipboard. Whenever the boy would stop the man would ask him a question, referring to the cardinal directions (north, south, east, and west) in relation to where the student was standing.
The man with the clipboard looked over my way, then came and said hello. I learned he was the boy's mobility specialist who was helping him learn the skills he needed to be independent and get around on his own. One of the things his student had to do was learn how to ask for assistance, so the next time the boy walked by his teacher told him the next task was to find a specific ATM in the mall; how would he go about doing that? After a short period with no response the man continued that there was a desk nearby with a person who could give him the answer.
The boy shyly asked me where to find his destination. I gave him directions, trying to use the same directional words I'd heard earlier, and referred to the pretzel store that would smell good as he passed by. However, I have to admit I also used my hands to point, which of course was useless to a blind person. The boy thanked me and was on his way. His instructor told him he was confident he could find it and he'd be there in a few minutes.
Later in the afternoon when a teenage girl holding a cane came up and asked me where she could find the same ATM I knew what was going on. Sure enough, after I'd given her directions (this time with much less pointing) and she was on her way I saw the mobility specialist. He stopped and asked me if I'd seen his client, then continued the same direction she'd gone.
Five years ago today: Hallmark Moment