I moved around a lot during my academic career. Each time I move to a new school or housing situation, I have to rethink my city mobility. I prioritize proximity to public transportation. As a part of my house/apartment shopping process, I think through the different places I would go in my day-to-day life: school, work, the grocery store, the mall, the park, etc. I practice getting to these places from the homes under consideration, figuring out the closeness of trains, bus lines, and talking crosswalks to the routes I might take.
When deciding between locations, there’s usually some give and take; for example, a longer walk to campus but a shorter walk to the bus line. It’s important to get a feel for which conveniences and inconveniences matter most to you, and to chose your housing with those in mind.
When I first moved into my apartment near the University of Florida, simply leaving and returning home was difficult due to the extremely complicated setup of the complex. I remember feeling trapped, not even knowing where the bus stop was located. Fortunately, I was provided a phenomenal ability trainer who accompanied me through my first day of school. She took me to my first class, stayed with me and showed me where my different classrooms were located, and took the time to drive me around the normal bus routes. She showed me every bus stop around my complex and showed me that I lived across from a shopping center.
If you think this could be of use to you, don’t hesitate to get the help. If your school does not connect with you a mobility trainer, you can follow this link to a directory of orientation and mobility services by state: http://www.visionaware.org/directory.aspx?action=results
Occupational therapists are experts at making home routines and daily tasks easier for people with visual impairments. Mine was extraordinary and even flew down to Florida on her personal vacation to visit me and help me set up. She aided me by placing tactile bumps on the necessary buttons on a microwave, placing tactile bumps on my dryer and washing machine, and giving me organizational tips on other household items. I highly recommend using the knowledge base of these professionals. Here is a website for locating an occupational therapist if your school does not do it for you: https://findanoccupationaltherapist.com
Working with the City
Once, I found that getting to a nearby the shopping center required crossing a major intersection that I couldn’t cross on my own. My mobility trainer suggested I contact the city council and request the placement of a talking crosswalk. The city listened, and after several months a talking crosswalk was installed, making the shopping center accessible.
The appropriate people to contact about talking cross walks and similar public accessibility concerns varies by state. You can contact the Public Works Department, Planning Department, or Transportation Department to ask about talking crosswalks, or to make other city accessibility requests.