Shortly before my second year of college, I received a few orientation and mobility lessons for learning how to navigate with low vision and a blindness cane. These lessons were helpful for learning general travel skills, but I noticed they didn’t get into specifics about navigating college campuses or using university resources available for students with vision loss. One lesson that would have been really helpful is sharing campus addresses every student should know and how to find them, so I’ve created the College O&M series to share my most-used tips and strategies for learning about this topic and others. Here are my tips for addresses to memorize in college that can make it easier to find buildings and use GPS applications.
Dorm building and room number
All of the on-campus housing buildings I lived in displayed the building address on a large sign in the lobby, as well as on a smaller sign on the door to each room. Google Maps did not recognize the name of my freshman dorm when I would search for directions, but did recognize this address, so I had to manually tag it as my dorm/home. In the event a student has to contact emergency dispatch, they will also need to read this address and provide their room number, and I recommend providing dispatch with information on how to locate the room, i.e “my room is four doors down from the elevator.”
Locked out? Need a vacuum cleaner? Have an urgent maintenance request? The neighborhood desk can assist students by providing temporary keys, equipment rentals, and other information, and may be in a different building from where the student is living. I practiced walking to the neighborhood desk both with and without my blindness cane since I often locked myself out of my room sans cane.
Dorms of friends
Whether it’s for a scheduled hang out or because the fire alarm is going off in my building, being able to visit friends and navigate to their buildings without assistance is awesome.
Since dorm buildings at my university are secure and cannot receive mail, all packages and letters had to be delivered to the mailroom. As a result, I had a different mailing address and mailbox number (different than a PO Box) that I would use online to get items delivered, and I would pick them up directly from the mailroom. I had the same mailing address and mailbox number for the entire time I lived on campus.
Buildings near dorm/apartment
Since one of my dorms could not be accessed by car and had no nearby roads, I used the address of a neighboring building to get groceries delivered or to have friends come pick me up. This also helped me with developing mental landmarks so I could learn to navigate other places.
- Blindness Canes and Dorm Buildings: Navigating College Campuses
- How To Choose A Dorm And Pick College Housing
- How To Handle Medical Emergencies In A Dorm
- Blindness Canes and Fire Alarms: Navigating College Campuses
- What If I Lock Myself Out Of My Dorm?
- College Mailrooms and Low Vision
Before the first day of the semester, I would practice walking to each of my classes and figure out where they were located, so that I didn’t get lost in the crowds the next day. If possible, I recommend looking at the addresses of class buildings when registering for classes to ensure that students have enough time to walk to each building- in one case, I discovered after enrolling that two classes I thought were next door to each other were over a mile apart.
The advisor’s office is typically located within the departmental office or building, though this may vary depending on the major. Students often have to meet with their advisor at least once per semester, and it can be embarrassing to get lost trying to find their office.
Some students might be wondering why they need to know where the library is if they can’t read standard print. Campus libraries are often a meeting place for study groups and clubs, and house additional resources such as scanners, video magnifiers, printers, and other helpful tools.
Disability Services office
The Disability Services office and testing center are two different rooms in the same building, and I would frequently travel there for exams or to pick up printed copies of my accommodation list. The assistive technology specialists are often located in the Disability Services office as well, though at my university they are in a neighboring building.
Another place for study groups, club meetings, and other offices for student services. Student centers are also often used as a landmark when providing directions to other buildings on campus.
- Blindness Canes and Classrooms: Navigating College Campuses
- Blindness Canes and Building Identification: Navigating College Campuses
- What To Know About College Assistive Technology Specialists
- College Libraries and Low Vision
- How To Create A Disability Services File
Social events/going places
General campus address
While it’s important to know the addresses of individual buildings, it also helps to know the general campus address when using a GPS or looking up campus information. For students attending classes on satellite campuses, I recommend documenting this information as well, as it can be helpful for figuring out traffic.
Funny story- I spent so much time at the dining hall eating and hanging out with friends that my phone automatically set the dining hall address as my home address. What can I say- the dining hall is a great place to meet people and hang out with friends!
Stadium or other gathering area
A lot of university events took place at the stadium/arena or in other large gathering areas, including basketball games, student orientation, concerts, and more. Many colleges with on-campus bus transportation also have stops outside of these buildings, which is helpful for students who don’t feel comfortable navigating in the dark or that are carrying large instruments or equipment for events.
Speaking of bus stops, knowing where the transportation center is located is helpful when trying to figure out how to get to places. I have an entire post about using the bus system at college linked below.
While I didn’t have my own car on campus until my brother became a student, parking garages are another great landmark to learn when navigating campus, and also provide an easy pick up or drop off location for ridesharing services.
- Blindness Canes and Dining Halls: Navigating College Campuses
- Blindness Canes And Sporting Events: Navigating College Campuses
- Blindness Canes and Performing Arts Centers: Navigating College Campuses
- Using Disability Transportation Services In College
- How I Learned To Use The City Bus System With Low Vision
- Tips For Siblings Going To The Same College
Other tips for addresses to memorize in college
- Most colleges and universities list building addresses online and have a list of building addresses and assembly areas on the emergency management website
- Gyms and other fitness areas are also helpful to memorize, but since these were next door to the dining halls, I didn’t have separate addresses for them
- Two buildings that are next door to each other may be listed as being on different streets- this was the case with the assistive technology office and Disability Services
- Want to learn more about using GPS applications? Check out Blindness Canes and GPS Applications: Navigating College Campuses and Smartphone Apps For Orientation and Mobility