Ensuring people with visual impairments can navigate between locations is one of many keys to success. If a student who is visually impaired chooses to attend a large university, the student may want to find out if there is a shuttle service to bring them between buildings. Similarly, when choosing a job, a person with a visual impairment may wish to determine transportation options between their home and the office. In reviewing options for a positive transportation experience, please remember that possession of exceptional orientation and mobility skills along with a willingness to ask for help is vital.
Plan Ahead and Know Your Options
For a person who is visually impaired, transportation may not always be available and cannot be requested at a moment’s notice. Therefore, anticipating needs and knowing about a variety of transportation options has worked well for me. Recently, the commuter rail was unable to stop in my hometown for two days as the police were conducting an investigation. Therefore, I contacted a coworker who graciously drove me to/from work. Although we may prefer a certain mode of transportation, it is crucial to be familiar with all available options. For example, your community may have a para-transit service for people with disabilities, or welcome ride sharing services (such as Uber or Lyft.) Another option could be carpooling with a colleague/friend, or paying for a taxi. Although using a different form of transportation may feel unsettling, I highly suggest keeping contact information for several transportation modes and for colleagues accessible. I also suggest being familiar with each service’s policy regarding trip requests to ensure your request is within their guidelines. Overall, welcome each challenge as a learning experience.
In Massachusetts, a list of communities serviced by para-transit is available by visiting http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/commissions-and-initiatives/hst/public-transportation-in-massachusetts.html. You may also be able to learn about other transportation options by contacting the reference librarian at your community’s public library or by contacting town hall. To locate colleagues who live in a similar geographic area, I have received permission from a supervisor to e-mail the department and have learned of others through word-of-mouth.
Scheduling and Cancelling Transportation
Scheduling transportation far in advance works well for me. Each day, I utilize two shuttle buses along with the commuter rail to travel between my house and the office. On a weekly basis, I call each shuttle service to ensure my name is on the schedule for the correct times and days. If I am not going to work, I notify each shuttle service as early as possible so the driver does not unnecessarily look for me. Although calling companies may feel exhausting, it is better to be proactive than to be waiting for a ride that was not properly scheduled.
Transportation will always be a hurdle for a person with a visual impairment. However, knowing options, planning ahead, and being ready to make modifications are three of many suggestions which will help make this process smoother.