Squaring Off is a basic O&M technique used for establishing perpendicular alignment to cross open spaces in a straight line. Crossing open spaces can be a challenge for someone who is blind or visually impaired for several reasons. First, there is the chance of veering off course and missing the desired destination altogether. Second, traveling through open space can be hard to replicate, the same way every time. Squaring off can be a helpful technique in minimizing some of this by assisting a person to have a straight perpendicular alignment before they begin their travel.
Ultimately squaring off, is placing one’s back against a straight or flat surface that is perpendicular to the persons desired line of travel. A majority of the time it will be a wall, but it can be anything straight and flat. Squaring off should not be done on round or movable surfaces such as a curved wall or rollable furniture. One way to check to make sure alignment is correct is by having two symmetrical body parts touching the same surface at the same time such as the heels or shoulder blades.
After squaring off the person projects a straight line of travel through their environment. A good way to picture this is to have the person’s nose and toes pointed in the same direction they want to travel or picture facing 12 o’clock on a clock face. After squaring off and projecting a straight line of travel the person can now begin moving. This technique can be done with or without a cane using protective techniques when necessary. Squaring off can also be used both indoors and outdoors. Examples of indoor uses include crossing a hallway or locating a table in the middle of a room. Outdoors it can help in crossing perpendicular streets by providing a straight line of travel to minimize veering.
Overall, squaring off has many uses and is a highly beneficial O&M technique. I highly recommend getting familiar with this technique. As an Orientation and Mobility Specialist, I teach this skill to most if not all of my clients. Please reach out to an instructor for some training to learn how to use this skill effectively and safely.