MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

October 29, 2013

OSB students test skills

Pilot program assesses strengths, weaknesses

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Oklahoma School for the Blind student Kaylee Ragon knew just where to lead her partner when she heard a sound in the yard.

With her white cane in front of her, Kaylee had her partner, Mykala Moore, take her arm. The two then walked confidently toward the beep.

The walk was one of several challenges the two mastered Monday during OSB’s pilot program, Cane Quest. Teams went to 13 stations across campus to test such orientation and mobility skills as detecting sound location, climbing stairs, pouring water and helping someone else pour water.

“Some children haven’t had this in their orientation and mobility setup,” said Cherry Holder, the OSB outreach coordinator who organized Cane Quest.

Holder said in a media release that the event challenges students to learn “where they excel and where they need to grow.”

OSB is one of three sites in the United States offering the challenge as a pilot program for the Braille Institute, Holder said. The other sites are in Florida and Massachusetts.

Monday’s challenge, known as Treasure Quest, rewarded participants with “coins” for each task they completed. Participants redeemed the coins for prizes. Participants were teamed with a partner, who acted as a guide through the challenge. Sometimes the partner was blindfolded and took directions from the contestant.

“I see this improving students’ independence skills, building self-esteem and having a good time while learning,” OSB Superintendent Jim Adams said.

OSB orientation and mobility specialist Debi Trout said the sound detection challenge was particularly important.

“One big thing here is to locate the sound,” she said. “You’ve got to know where the traffic is coming from.”

During the challenge, participants learned more than pouring water, locating dropped objects or detecting sounds.

“I learned how to trust my partner,” Kaylee said. “I learned to go up and down stairs and how to work with my cane and my sighted guide.”

Kaylee said working with a sighted guide involves trust. “It’s when you walk a half step behind the guide and you hold the arm just above the elbow,” she said.

Adams said OSB students later will get involved in a field test for their higher level skills, such as using a cane to get around.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.