Hesperian Health Guides
Chapter 11: Helping Your Child Know Where She Is (Orientation)
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Rani is a little blind girl, born in a village in India. Rani's grandmother Baka is blind too, and has been able to show Jeevan and Aruna, Rani's parents, ways to teach Rani. By the time Rani was 2 years old she had learned to feel her way along the walls and furniture. She moved slowly, carefully exploring each crack, bump, and crevice with her fingers. Now Rani's family wants to teach her to walk in the house without holding on to things.
Today, Baka is explaining to Jeevan and Aruna how she learns to get from place to place. "When I want to go from the front door to my favorite chair, I walk 8 steps. That takes me past the table. Then I make a quarter-turn to the left, and I walk another 4 steps. Then I reach out my hand and make sure the chair is there, because I remember one time somebody moved the chair, and I sat down on air!" Baka laughs as she remembers.
But Baka's story is not funny. It is important for us to understand how hard it is for a blind child to learn to get around. For Rani to learn to walk without holding on, she will have to remember every detail — how many steps to walk and how far to turn. Rani's family will have to be patient because it will take Rani a lot of effort and practice.