Out and About: Travel Training
In the previous two posts, I have focused primarily on travel for visually impaired people. However, people with a wider range of needs require support to learn to get around and this is often delivered through lessons called Travel Training. So, in this post, I shall give you a brief overview of what that is.
While it’s important to learn to get around safely when you can’t see, there are many other groups to whom it is also important. The skills they will have to learn will vary from condition to condition and even from person to person with some of the groups that have issues that are to do with difficulties with learning or conditions that affect their mental health as opposed to their physical health. Possible things that will need to be taught could include learning to get to places by bus, becoming confident in performing tasks such as shopping independently and possibly train travel.
People with Physical Disabilities
Travel training is really important for people with physical difficulties, because getting on a bus or train up and down the street with all the various people and obstacles in the way, can’t exactly be easy if you’re in a wheelchair or have to rely on other aids to help you walk! Oh and then there’s the lovely people out in the streets. I’ve heard stories from people in wheelchairs of passers-by who think it’s okay to grab hold of a person’s wheelchair and just move them out of the way, rather than asking them to move, like you would do to any other human being. I used to know a young lady who was in a wheelchair, who said she couldn’t do certain bus routes at certain times of day, just because there wasn’t physically room on the bus for her chair.
There is also lots for these people to learn in the way of how to use the various devices they use to get around. With the development of modern technology, walking devices have come a long way. I have met some people who have wheelchairs that can do some pretty impressive things, but naturally, there is training that would need to go with learning those skills.
There are also people who cannot hear who would need to learn to travel around safely, with the loss of their hearing. I can’t say I know a great deal about what is and isn’t taught to people with other physical disabilities. There must be systems, but the conversations I have had with people with these conditions have never been detailed enough to cover the finer points of these and I wouldn’t want to assume that other content posted online is necessarily accurate in all circumstances.
Learning Disabilities and Mental Health Conditions
This is an interesting area in the sense that it’s one that the world has only really just started to reluctantly acknowledge. Fifty years ago, people with learning difficulties would have had almost no support.
This is an area of travel training that’s not black and white, because it will very much depend on the individual’s needs. A person with a learning disability for example, may need repeated reinforcement of how to get to a place or how to deal with a certain situation. Similarly, a person with a mental health condition may need to be taught how to successfully interact with a certain situation for their travel to run smoothly. From what I’ve gathered from speaking to people with issues in these areas, while particular teachers may have certain things they generally teach to most of their students, it tends to depend on the needs of the individual in question.
I have known people argue that all people would benefit from some sort of tuition in best practise while travelling, something I think is very true. With the world becoming so much more of a dangerous place, with so many cars on the roads, with people travelling further distances purely because you don’t have to walk everywhere anymore and with the increase of people in the world trying to cause harm, who now have more means to do so as a result of technological advancements, it is true that all young people could benefit from learning how to be wise on the streets even if that just comes from a parent, carer or relative taking the time to do bus travel with them or some general coverage in schools.
What are your experiences of learning to travel independently? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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