In the past few posts, I have discussed home security for everyone, which can help the disabled as well. Now I want to specifically talk about those of us that are disabled. I can only speak in generalities because of the myriad of issues for each disability, but always ask for help if you have a concern.
The statistics since 2004 show that crime against the disabled has begun to skyrocket. For numerous reasons, we are getting around with a larger target on our backs than before. We used to have a free pass no matter where or when we were but now…eh not so much.
The key in all of this is continually being aware of where you are and what is going on around you at all times. If you don’t stay aware and hyper-vigilant, some will call it paranoid, you can’t notice when someone may be trying to come up on you. Please remember that many people believe that disabled people got, or are, stupid after their disability and have no clue. Surprise them and show them you are aware of where you are, when, and what is going on around you.
If you are blind or in a wheelchair, you have to know what type of ground you’re on or you’ll fall and possibly be seriously injured. These are dangers even if you know where you are. It can be terrifying to be like a turtle on its back defenseless with your soft underbelly exposed.
In the instance that you are in a wheelchair and visually impaired, don’t let anyone push you to go faster than you want to or feel safe doing. I understand that people want to help and don’t want us to get caught in the middle of traffic when the light changes. But they don’t realize that moving faster than you can or grabbing and pulling you along can be just as dangerous.
Take your time and let your cane show you where you’re at while you’re out and about. Don’t take anything for granted when moving down a sidewalk or across the street. One tip that I started utilizing a decade ago in residential neighborhoods was to angle just a bit when crossing the street, away from the corner. I may end up 10 feet from the corner but I would rather do that than end up in the middle of the street.
Make every effort to… listen. If you don’t listen closely, then you may miss a clue as to something coming up on you. Listening closely will tell you if there is something around you no matter what it may be. Landscaping, vehicles on the curb or across the sidewalk, children’s toys, hoses, sprinklers, wires, and so on. Everything you come across will change the sound of your surroundings. Pay attention to the changes to the noise level and air pressure.
In order to not be considered a target by ruffians, move as quickly as you can. A sports quote by the John Wooden is as applicable to us as it is to sports; be quick but don’t hurry, and yes there is a big difference. In other words be quick in your motions but if you hurry them you will make a mistake.
I have always felt that if you follow the military motto about walking, then no one will mess with you. That motto being Walk like you have some place to go and something to do once you get there. In other words walk as quickly as you can with confidence. Head up, shoulders straight, as fast as is safe, and using your cane ‘defensively’ as in driving.
As for smell, that may be a little more subjective than hearing, but you can’t ignore it either. If you smell something that isn’t…quite right, don’t ignore it. It could be the wiring in the house ready to catch fire, your neighbor’s house burning, leaks of some kind (water, gas, sewer, or etc.), or something similar. But never ignore it until you can determine what it is. And don’t be upset if no one else can smell it, it’s natural.
I have good hearing and sense of smell for one reason and one reason only. I trained myself during my 20 years in the field as a security officer/manager. At 0300 hours in a dark warehouse…noises sounding like rats or other critters can be an attempt to break in and steal. As for smell, if you walk through a facility that uses hazardous materials or chemicals…
Your sense of smell can also help you while you are out taking in a walk. Cigarette smoke, especially if you don’t, body odor, and a myriad of other smells can alert you to many things that are close or coming up. If you hear water running but smell something nauseating then it could be a broken sewer line. Is that body odor? Possibly someone who just didn’t take a shower or someone trying to sneak up on you.
Just like with your hearing don’t ignore your smelling something out of the ordinary. It could be nothing, just over active olfactory nerves but why take the chance when you are disabled? Again, don’t let anyone deride you for it either. Remember the cliché from the National Federation of the Blind: “Some who are sighted are the most blind of all”.
The last part of this series will focus on apartment living and utilizing another sense that is nearly impossible to ignore. It may be wrong on occasion but you shouldn’t just out and out ignore it without checking it out.
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I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear