Using Physical Features to Align to Cross

It is often not possible to use the normal alignment procedures for crossing streets. This can happen, for example, when using the pedestrian pushbutton, because the pedestrian must move out of alignment to push the button, and then must cross with the next surge of parallel traffic, before being able to use the traffic sounds to align.

In these situations, people who are skilled at this technique can align themselves using their foot or cane to determine the angles of physical lines, such as curbs, grass lines or walls after they have familiarized themselves to the corner (using the strategy below).

Practice, practice!
Practice with feedback from an instructor or friend is required to become skilled at this technique. To practice, students can be positioned in alignment and use their foot or cane to feel the angle of the curb / grass / wall when they are aligned, then memorize what that angle feels like. Next they turn around and walk away and then return, feel the angle of the line and position themselves again so the angle feels the same as it did when they were aligned straight. The instructor or friend then gives feedback as to how accurate is the alignment, and they practice this until they can accurately reposition themselves.

Procedure for aligning:
Once you have become skilled at being able to re-establish alignment using a physical line, here is the procedure to familiarize yourself to a corner where you want to be able to align to cross:

  • Find a physical feature / landmark near the crosswalk that is unique, easy to find (from the pushbutton, if needed), and is close to a tactually detectable line such as a curb, grass line, wall, etc.

  • While standing at the landmark, establish alignment to cross straight (assistance may be needed for this initial alignment);

  • While standing in good alignment, run the cane or feet along the tactually detectable line to determine its angle and how it feels when you are aligned straight (if using the cane, reach far along the line to the left and right);

  • memorize how that line feels when you are facing straight;

  • When getting ready to cross (for example, after pushing the button), return to the landmark and find the detectable line (curb, wall, etc.);

  • Run your cane or feet along the tactually detectable line and get in a position such that the line seems to be at the same angle it was when you were standing in straight alignment. You are now aligned and ready to start as soon as it is time to cross.

    NOTE: The reason it is important to do this from a landmark is to ensure that you always align yourself at the same place. This is important because corners are rounded, and so the angle of the curb line changes as you move along it. If you try to use the curb line to get your alignment somewhere other than where you originally got it, you will not be facing in the same direction.

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