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Flying Blind: Leaving The Nest

Editor's Note: Marcia Cummings is the NFB:AE's national secretary. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Moving away from home is one of the major events in life. This is true for everyone, but it takes on added dimensions, not to mention stresses, for someone who cannot see.

Take me, for example. At 28, I had been working full-time for almost six years and was still living at home with my parents. Life was moving on, very safely and uneventfully, until the day I decided to leave familiar territory and head into the unknown--a place of my own!

For me, along with the universal considerations of affordable rent, the need for new furniture and appliances, etc. there were other concerns access to transit, availability of services nearby, and whether I could learn how to find my way from this new home to work, at the very least! Determination, however, is always a good motivator, and I set out to find the perfect place to call home.

I enlisted the assistance of a real estate agent, a family friend, who took my list of must-haves and started suggesting apartments for rent. We went to visit a few, but they were not decent places, had poor transit possibilities, or both. Finally, I decided to try the rental buildings attached to the mall at Sheppard and Yonge, where the subway was almost literally in my basement! I fell in love with the apartment immediately the layout was simple, open and airy, and I couldn't do much better for transit access.

Okay, so now I had the keys what a scary prospect!

It's amazing how mobility, something as simple as moving from one place to another, can be affected by the inability to see. Seemingly elementary tasks, like orienting oneself to a new building or neighbourhood in order to travel freely, become a chore!

My mother showed me how to get to the building a couple of times, and then I tried it on my own. What a sense of accomplishment I felt when I arrived at my new apartment door by myself! Nothing quite compares to that feeling of independence. I inwardly thanked my past orientation and mobility instructors for their insistence that I learn indoor and outdoor travel skills, as well as for giving me enough sense to know what information others needed to give me in order for me to learn new routes.

All I had to do now was buy and label the microwave, pick out furniture and move in. Well, it wasn't quite that easy, but it was possible, and it was what

I wanted to do.

If I had any advice to give people thinking of making their first big move, it would be to figure out where you want to be, what kind of layout and facilities you want, and be strong enough to keep looking until you find a place that most closely resembles your ideal don't settle! Any and all barriers can be overcome, as long as you have the will to reach your goal.