Way back when I was in 7th grade, I used to stay after school for orientation and mobility classes, and then take a bus home. I would have to walk several blocks home from the bus after dark, so my mobility teacher got me a florescent orange vest that made me visible for drivers to see me while I crossed streets. I still have an orange vest that I wear on walks in the winter, but it’s made out of thick polyester and doesn’t breathe, so it’s too hot for night walks in the summer. I have tried to use lights so I could leave the vest at home, also lights take up much less space and can travel well in a backpack. The problem I have with the lights i’ve tried so far though is that they have all used replaceable non-rechargeable batteries. Being blind I often forget to turn them off when I get home, and it’s not exactly easy for me to know if they’re on or off, or what mode they’re in, they all use push buttons instead of physical switches. A problem still to be solved.
I’m guessing some blind people think using the LED flash on smartphones may seem kind of strange, silly, or impractical. Though they aren’t the brightest flash light around, several sighted people have told me that it comes in handy now and then. One friend uses it at night so he doesn’t turn on a room light and wake his wife. More than one friend has used the flashlight on their phones to navigate after they turned off all of my lights so when they leave my electric bill doesn’t run up. I so far hadn’t really personally found a use for the flashlight, thus removing it from control center; though I just re-added it this week.
I needed to take an Uber at 10:15pm recently and wanted the driver to see me when they arrived. I have been exactly where I was supposed to wait for a city bus in the past, and the bus went past without even slowing down. This has happened more than once, and my white cane was totally visible, or at least fully extended and in front of me. Uber drivers in the past have said they wished they knew I was blind before picking me up. I wasn’t going to be able to see the Uber driver, and no one was around me. I then remembered that my iPhone had a flashlight, so i turned it on and pointed it at my shoulders and face. I’m not sure if it helped the driver find me, but I know that they did easily, so I’m thinking it did.
Something to keep in mind, even if you’re sighted. Even if you can see the Uber, helping the driver also see you might save you more than just seconds.
I thought it was worth sharing, and the next time i wait for a bus at night I’ll probably use the flashlight then too.