Adrian Broca

   

Rediscovering Running with Adaptive Technology for the Visually Impaired

July 19th, 2014  |  Published in Adrian's Blog

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The fear of getting lost was one of the biggest challenges I had to overcome when I lost most of my eyesight twenty years ago. It took me months to feel comfortable just walking around my neighborhood that had once been so familiar to me. It took me a while to gain back some confidence but when I did, I started walking then jogging further away from my home.

On my expeditions I often had to ask other pedestrians for directions in order to find my way back. It was frustrating many times to be ignored or worse when I got the wrong information. This all changed a couple of years ago when I got the Trekker Breeze Talking GPS device from my local Calfornia Department of Rehabilitation office.

The Breeze has made a huge difference in my everyday life. This amazing handheld device audibly lets me know my exact location, as well as upcoming intersections and location of landmarks and shops nearby. Gone are the days of guessing my stop when riding the bus. The Trekker’s step-by-step directions make it incredibly easy for me to find any address or place.

Last year, while training for my first American River 50 mile Endurance Run, I relied on my Breeze to guide me to my favorite fire road trail in the Santa Monica Mountains. Although my wife and a friend were more than happy to give me a ride there, it was incredibly rewarding to navigate the five mile meandering route to the trail by myself. On my long road runs, I’ve discovered new bike paths to run on. As a result, I have now gained back a great deal of the independence I had when I was fully sighted.

After thirteen years of running blind, it sometimes gets monotonous to run the same routes day after day. Using my Trekker Breeze has made my training more flexible and fun again. This Summer, for instance, getting to do my speedwork has been less stressful. Whereas before I would have to take two buses to get to the track and still be late, I now can be there on time by running there and being already warmed up and ready for the workout.

As I prepare to run my third California International Marathon, I do so with a renewed love for running. Although competing at a high level will always be important, I now have a deeper appreciation for just having fun and enjoying the sport for the freedom and peace that it brings me.

Taking all of these advantages into consideration, I only have a couple of caveats about the Breeze for anyone considering getting one:

This device already comes equipped with a digital map of your home state. If you travel out of state, however; you’ll need to purchase an additional DVD with the rest of the United States. Although the DVD is only $100, the SD card can only hold six state maps at a time. My second note is how long it sometimes takes the Breeze to acquire the GPS signal. Depending on conditions, it can sometimes take up to 10 minutes.

These slight inconveniences, however, are no big deal when compared to the many benefits the device offers. For about the price of an iPhone, this device is a worthwhile investment for any visually impaired individual seeking more independence.