Navigating open spaces

What the blind find difficult are smooth, open spaces. It is just these ares whoich are assumed by many sighted people to be the best for the blind, becase there is no danger of tripping. From theblind point of view, however, a flat, open surface is not negotiable because there are no orientating signals. There is no structure. It is not predictable, because it may end at any moment., and there is no way of telling where you are, once you are on it.  The problem for the blind is not falling over, but knowing where he is. For this reason, it is easier to find my way around a camput which is marked out by steps, little hills and valleys, low walls and lots of changes in texture, because I can mark out my route with sections. The structure becomes a sequence when I am moving through it.

p.103 Touching The Rock, John Hull

Control during navigation; accepting help

‘I lose my independence as soon as I accept my friend’s company.’ ‘I am being towed, moving at a faster pace than would normally be possible.’
Having a conversation means you cannot devote yourself to your route the concentration that it would normally require.

‘A sighted person cannot simply accept my company. Through no fault of his own, he has by walking with me, deprived me of my independence. Through no fault of my own, I have sacrificed my independence for the sake of his company. He then becomes responsible for me.’

By accepting help you become more dependent, yet this is not the ordinary state when navigating.

p.100 Touching the Rock, John Hull

I am passive in the presence of that which accosts me.

‘The sighted person can choose whom he wants to speak to.’ People ‘have a presence prior to his greeting them, and he can choose whether to turn that presence into a relationship by addressing his acquaintance’. ‘When you are blind, a hand suddenly grabs you. A voice suddenly addresses you.’ ‘There is no anticipation or preparation. There is no hiding around the corner.’

p.95 Touching The Rock, John Hull

Body / Time / Consistency

The deaf measure time by seeing movement. Gazing out upon a world of no movement there is a quality of permanence, static consistency.

In losing this kind of awareness of space, blind people have less awareness of unchangeability. The world of the blind is more ephemeral, since sounds come and go.

Position is measured by time. Although when being guided by someone else you receive fewer clues as to your position, time can often be enough to tell you where you are.

p.93 John Hull, Touching The Rock