I’m sure that this is a question that people mutter to themselves when they see me walking along in the rain. And just recently we’ve been having a lot of torrential downpours which I’ve been caught out in that have soaked me!
Back in November 2017 we wrote an Insight called “Rain… a sensory landscape…” (https://vidatraining.weebly.com/blog/34-rain-a-sensory-landscape) which touched on my experiences of rain. This insight covered all aspects of rain including the sounds it makes, the sensory landscape that it gives me and the reason why I don’t put my hood up. What it didn’t cover is why I don’t use an umbrella.
As a blind person, I rely heavily on my hearing to navigate and orientate myself. If I put a hood up then this muffles the sound and removes lots of the directional sounds that I rely on. For this reason, I prefer to hear and get wet than restrict my hearing and remain dry.
So the umbrella… Yes, using an umbrella would be a solution to my problem – hooray!
But no, I find using an umbrella just as difficult. Yes, it does mean that I can still use my hearing effectively but it causes other problems.
I use a white stick (or long cane to use its correct name) to navigate and get around safely. Obviously this takes up one hand and the other hand I like to have free so that I can use it to help identify objects if I need to or be able to protect my face if I walk through overgrown trees etc. If I had to hold an umbrella then I wouldn’t be able to do this. The other problem with using an umbrella when you can’t see is that you are forever getting it caught on trees or hedges, knocking it against walls, lamp posts or vehicles or worse still poking people with it. Ultimately they’re more of a hindrance and danger to others than a help.
However, I recently received a gift from my children that solves this problem… a hands-free umbrella! J Yes folks, this is an umbrella, as demonstrated in the video clip, that pops up and attaches to your head using an elastic headband – no hands!
Not only does it make me feel like Inspector Gadget and want to say ‘Go go gadget umbrella’ when I put it on, it makes me look a tiny bit sillier than I already do. Practically it solves one of my problems by not having to hold the umbrella but I still would have the same issues with brushing it against trees and branches or catching it on lamp posts and other objects.
Ultimately it was a fun present that I’ll use on our training or for embarrassing the children in the school playground but not something you’ll see me wearing sensibly when it’s raining.
We’re always interested to know about other people’s experiences and thoughts. Please share these by commenting…
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Our VIDA Insights...
Following our experiences from delivering our Vision Impairment Awareness training days over the past couple of years, we know that there’s loads more that we could talk about and examples we could have shared. Whilst these won’t be a substitute for our training, they will give you an insight (hence the name!) into our thoughts, observations and experiences from each of our perspectives - Dave’s living with sight loss and Vicky’s from being a sighted person and working alongside and supporting people who have sight loss.