MUSKOGEE, Okla. — The Oklahoma School for the Blind is helping to boost education excitement and skill building through a challenging orientation and mobility program called “Cane Quest.”
Designed for visually impaired students in grades 3-12, Cane Quest is a program developed by the Braille Institute of America. The Oklahoma School for the Blind (OSB) is just one of many schools across the country that participates in this activity. All contestants use long, white canes for travel to identify obstacles in their paths and changes in surfaces, such as drop-offs at stairs or curbs.
“This program has participants follow route directions, cross streets, get into vehicles, and demonstrate all of those different skills that we would use to get around. So the students are demonstrating those skills and competing to gain the most points,” said Faye Miller, OSB orientation and mobility specialist and regional Cane Quest coordinator.
36 contestants recently competed in the 10th annual Oklahoma Regional Cane Quest competition, held by the OSB. Those contestants were divided into three categories: Scouts (grades 3-6), Explorers (grades 7-9), and Trailblazers (grades 10-12).
Cane Quest contestants in the Scouts category competed on the OSB campus in Muskogee, and demonstrated a variety of human guide skills, body and spatial awareness abilities, and safe negotiation of stairs. Competitors in the Explorers and Trailblazers categories competed in downtown Muskogee, near the Muskogee Civic Center. They crossed streets and alleys and demonstrated different long cane techniques while following recorded directions.
“The community involvement that comes with Cane Quest allows our students to show off their skills, but it also allows individuals from the community to see how much potential our kids have. Just because they have a visual impairment doesn’t mean they don’t have the ability to develop great independent travel skills,” said Miller.
Among those competing were 9th grade student, Angel Cozort of Vinita, and 12th grade student, Samantha Six of Disney, Oklahoma. Both Cane Quest contestants took home top honors this year by medaling in their respective categories.
“Having this opportunity really does let them shine and feel proud of themselves. They’re also very motivated. We have several rivalries between students at our school and they really work hard to improve their skills so that they can metal higher than whoever their rival happens to be. It’s a great way for them to really be motivated,” said Miller.