News from Austria

The regional branch of the Austrian Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted – Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland – established an academy course for future mobility and orientation trainers. The second round of the academy course was completed by participants last year and the new trainers can now start assisting visually impaired people in their independent mobility. We have talked to Elliott Edwards, one of the 2022 graduates now working as a trainer.

Mr. Edwards, you trained a lot using a blindfold. Can you give us an example of the techniques you learned that blind and partially sighted people need for independent mobility?

Elliott Edwards: When we learned how to use a white cane properly, we were blindfolded, so we had no image of our surroundings. We practiced the technique and it took a while to find the right rhythm and the right width in which to swing the cane. We got a lot of feedback and had to correct ourselves and it wasn’t easy to get the hang of it. Also, using stairs or orienting yourself in a building was a big part of it. For example, I memorized the northwestern corner because there I could feel a cupboard with a defibrillator in it. This is how I started building my orientation in a room. I have to say, in general, it is a lot to, but the academy course was very well structured and I feel secure enough to start training visually impaired people, even though I know I still have a lot to learn myself.