Veronica With Four Eyes

Blindness Canes and Nighttime: Navigating College Campuses

Welcome to my Navigating College Campuses series, where I talk about all of the different ways I use Orientation and Mobility (O&M) techniques and my blindness cane as a student with low vision at my large public university. After spending four years living on my college campus, I’ve learned a thing or two about navigating in several different conditions and situations, and am so excited to share my tips and tricks with other students and future students. Today, I will be sharing my experiences with blindness canes and navigating my college campus at night.

My favorite cane for walking at night

All of my blindness canes can be used safely at night, as they have white and colored reflective tape, which is a standard design feature of blindness canes. However, I prefer to walk with my glow in the dark cane whenever possible, which I purchased from Maxi-Aids, or with my bright yellow reflective cane which provides higher contrast against the dark sky and doesn’t look like the reflective poles on my college campus that many drivers are used to seeing.

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Getting back from class

Whenever possible, I try not to take classes at night. However, I have had classes that get out at 10 PM, which is the latest class time at my university and after hours for the disability transportation service. In order to get back from class safely and make it to my dorm, I would do one of the following things:

  • Use the campus bus system so I wouldn’t have to walk too far- my dorm was a one minute walk from the bus stop and I didn’t have to cross the street
  • Ask my professor to walk me to a central student area that has a well lit path back to my dorm so that I wouldn’t be walking in an obscure part of campus. For one of my classes, a trusted professor walked me all the way to my dorm when I lived in emergency/transitional housing after their class
  • Walk with a friend or ask a friend to walk with me

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Stick to popular, well-lit routes

While I am all for exploring campus and learning new shortcuts to get to class during the day, I recommend sticking to populated and well-lit routes when walking at night- no taking shortcuts through a forest or the back side of a building. I tend to follow the main sidewalk and use routes that have security officers stationed along the way, since those are the most safe.

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Take a friend for late night adventures

While my college is safe to walk around at night, I feel much more comfortable walking with a friend for late night adventures to the dining hall or similar places. They can also act as a human guide or help me stay alert when I am walking to and from my destination.

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See what’s available online before going outside

One time, my friend was telling me about how worried they were about having to walk to the library at night to get a copy of a book. Before they left, I had them check the school’s online library resources, and they discovered they could read a full copy of the book online, which meant they could wait until daytime to go get their book. Other examples of potential online resources can include late-night food delivery and video chat for projects.

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Don’t be afraid to call a security escort

There were many nights in college where I went to the dining hall at 7 pm and didn’t leave until 2 am. To avoid walking back by myself, I take advantage of my college’s free security escort program so I can have someone walk with me back to my dorm, or get a ride in one of the security cars. Don’t feel bad for calling a security escort late at night- that is what they are there for, and they would much rather make sure you get back safe than worry about having to look for you the next day.

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Final thoughts

Navigating college campuses can be tricky, but I’m so grateful to have my blindness cane to help me every step of the way. My blindness cane provides me the independence I need as someone with low vision and allows me to go all of the places I want to go on campus, all while keeping me safe from obstacles and safety hazards along the way. Whether you are new to using a cane or have used one your entire life, I hope this post is helpful for learning how to navigate your college campus, no matter what gets in your way!

Blindness Canes and Nighttime: Navigating College Campuses. My tips for walking at night/in the dark with a blindness cane, from a college student and blindness cane user with low vision