10 Tips for blind geocachers

Here are some tips and tricks that I have picked up for blind and partially sighted people who want to participate in geocaching.
1. Find an app that works for you. There are apps that will voice distance and direction to waypoints. Ariadne GPS is the one I use.
2. If you do go solo caching, then make some “found it” notes beforehand. A short printed note, the smaller the better that states that you have found this cache and couldn’t sign the log because you are blind. I have done this and scribbled the date on the paper before putting it in the caches I found for the next person to discover. I left an email address and on the three occasions I used this system, people were kind enough to email me to say that they had added my name to the log sheet in the cache.
3. Dress appropriately. Wear decent walking boots. The likelihood of you stumbling and tripping are high when out on the trail and having decent boots that support your ankles is very important. Wear long trousers and a top with long sleeves. There are lots of nettles, stingers, branches and brambles out there so protect your exposed skin. This can be tricky when it is very hot but don’t be tempted to go caching in shorts or a skirt. Wear a cap or hat with a brim as in addition to protecting you from the sun these also have the added bonus as acting as a buffer for obstructions. Lots of times my hat has taken the majority of an impact from a branch or rogue bramble. Take gloves. This is part of your caching kit anyway but for a blind person who will be putting their hands in lots of places without seeing what is there a good pair of gloves will protect you from stinging nettles, brambles and thorns. Try to get the strongest and thinnest gloves you can. Thick gardening gloves won’t let you feel things properly.
4. Put your iPhone on a lanyard around your neck. This will allow you to refer to it quickly without having to constantly take it out of your pocket. As a cane user you have one less free hand and if you are holding onto someone else as well then you have no spare hands so having your iPhone around your neck is the best bet. You will need to get a case with a lanyard attachment as the iPhone does not have a method of attaching one otherwise. I modified my Griffin Survivor iPhone case by drilling a couple of holes to allow me to attach some loops for a lanyard to clip on to but I am sure cases with in built lanyard loops are available.
5. Make sure you have enough battery life on your phone to get you through the day. If you rely on technology don’t expect it to last all day if you are draining the battery using the GPS. If you use an iPhone then dim the screen, turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and use a three finger triple tap to enable the screen curtain which will drastically increase your battery life. You can also buy external power banks that will charge your iPhone in the field. I carry one of these in my bag whenever we go caching after getting rather panicky on the occasion that both mine and Sharlene’s phones died when we were out in the middle of nowhere and due to collect Sam from school with no way of knowing where the car was.
6. Use the voice memo function on your iPhone or take a voice recorder to make notes and record bonus numbers whilst out and about. Just because you can’t write doesn’t mean that you can’t be in charge of recording important information.
7. Work out a system with the other members of the group who will be leading and guiding you. Tell them what works for you and what doesn’t. Experiment with different methods of holding hands or arms until you find something that makes you feel safe and also doesn’t overly restrict the movement of you or your guide.
8. Use your brain. When arriving at GZ ask about what features are around, think how you would hide caches and suggest places where it could be. Think about the name of the cache and the hints. Those with sight are often “blinded” by what they can see and don’t always stop to consider what the Cache Owner was trying to tell you with the hint.
9. The long white cane is your friend. Choose your tip with care. A pencil or ceramic tip is going to be a pain as it will continuously get caught on roots and uneven ground. Consider a jumbo roller disc or, my favourite, the roller tip which in my experience is very sturdy and can still be used for a constant contact method of sweeping in the most rugged of terrains. A long white cane is also very handy for holding back nettles and brambles, poking around in bushes and as a passable walking stick for those steep hills. The tip of your cane can be used to find caches too as the sound of it knocking against a plastic container is very distinctive.
10. Don’t be afraid to get amongst it. Keep your head down, lead with your cane and slowly work your way into the bushes or wade through the river, or even climb that tree. I have done all of these things and as long as you take precautions and work with your guide and take your time then you can too… and have lots of fun doing them as you realise that you too, are now a geocacher.

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This entry was posted in Blindness, Finding Geocaches, Geocaching and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 10 Tips for blind geocachers

  1. Pingback: Washknight: Geocaching From A Different Perspective – The Geocaching Junkie

  2. Pingback: Washknight: Geocaching From A Different Perspective | The Geocaching Junkie – The Geocaching Junkie

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