Do Blind People Count Steps? I get asked this question all the time from both the sighted public as well as some clients who have recently lost their vision. It is, in my opinion, a very valid question to ask but I feel it needs to be addressed to dissipate the misconception that people who are blind and visually impaired should or do count steps to navigate their environment.
I am going to be addressing three different aspects of this one question.
First, do blind people count steps? In short, rarely if ever. This is a general statement because some people out there may count steps all the time. But in my experience working with adults who are blind and visually impaired only a few have counted steps and in very specific circumstances. For example, counting the number of stairs in a familiar environment.
Second, should blind people count steps? Again this is a general statement because certain circumstances might dictate counting steps. However, in general steps should never be counted and here’s why. Counting steps is highly unreliable due to all the factors that can negatively influence its outcome. Here are just a few examples, losing count of how many steps were taken, walking pace can vary depending on how one is feeling that day significantly altering how many steps it would take to arrive at a destination, and finally, even a slight variation in the angle of the walking path can alter the number of steps. There are many more examples out there but I believe this makes it clear.
Thirdly, if blind people should not count steps then what can they do? The answer to this is using landmarks. Landmarks are objects in the environment that are permanent and always there. Think telephone poles, streetsigns, roads, pathways, building, just to name a few. Using landmarks as a way to determine one’s location is much easier and way more reliable than counting steps.
In conclusion, blind people do not count steps rather they use landmarks to know where they are and where they want to go.