Mobility Exercises

About this Guide

This guide was prepared by the experts in Orientation & Mobility (O&M) at World Access for the Blind.  The guide presents various mobility exercises that will help you master the Sunu Band and make it a complement to your orientation and mobility skills. Each concept and skill, presented as mobility exercise, corresponds to a particular scenario. We recommend that you practice each at a couple of times in order to become more proficient  at using Sunu Band in your daily activities.

Please keep safety in mind while learning to use the Sunu Band. It is a supplement to your other mobility devices and skills, not a replacement for them. We strongly advise using your cane in shortened technique or in diagonal technique while learning to use the Sunu Band’s short range. This way, your cane won’t be detecting things before the Sunu Band, but you will be able to use your cane to look for drop-offs, low-lying obstacles, and for general orientation purposes. We also strongly suggest that you begin experimenting with the device in familiar environments such as your home or school before venturing out to a new space. With that said, congratulations on receiving your new device, and we look forward to your continued success. Happy adventuring!

Put the Sunu Band on your arm which isn’t using a mobility device, with the cylindrical shaped  sensor closest to your thumb. Relax your arm so that it hangs naturally at your side with your palm gently touching your leg. The sensor should point ahead of you and toward the middle of your path. This way, the band will detect obstacles in front of you as you walk. If this isn’t happening consistently, you may have to adjust the angle of the band either by shifting the band on your wrist, or by slightly rotating your wrist so the sensor points toward the middle of your path of travel. Since everybody’s wrist is a different size, the exact angle of the beam will vary from person to person. Try to angle your wrist toward the space in front of you while still holding your arm in a comfortable position.

There are two ranges the Sunu Band can switch between that are pre-set by the factory. The short range is set to 6 feet (1.8 meters;) and the long range is set to 16 feet (4.8 meters.) You can easily switch to the short range by swiping inward on the device’s touchscreen toward the sensor, or to the long range by swiping outward from the sensor. You can change either or both of these default ranges through the mobile app after pairing it with your mobile device.

Mobility Exercises

Exercise 1: Finding a Wall

This exercise helps you develop an idea of how much the band will vibrate based upon your distance and your angle of approach with respect to a large object such as a wall at short and long range.

While standing on one side of a hallway with your back against the wall, turn on the short range, which is pre-set to approximately 6 feet (unless you’ve already modified this setting.)

Slowly walk toward the opposite wall of the hallway. The band will begin to vibrate in short, slow bursts when you’re about 6 feet from the wall, but will vibrate faster the closer you get. When you first feel the vibrations, rotate your wrist slightly from side to side. See if the vibrations occur at the same rate when the sensor is pointed to one side, and then the other. If the sensor is vibrating more quickly to one side, that means you are approaching the wall at an angle. To approach the wall straight on, the vibrations need to be the same as the sensor is pointing to one side and the other. Practice feeling the difference as you turn your body so that you are facing the wall at an angle verses straight ahead.

Now, continue approaching the wall once you feel it is straight ahead of you.
When you’re about to meet the wall on the other side, the device should be vibrating constantly.

Now, turn around and cross the hallway again, this time a little faster than before. Stop walking as soon as you feel it vibrate. Be sure as before that you are approaching the wall straight on. Slowly approach the wall, taking note of the more consistent vibrations you feel.

Repeat this exercise in a larger, more or less empty  space such as a classroom or larger office. Switch the Sunu Band to the long range setting by swiping along the touch screen outward from the sensor. Stand on one side of the room, and walk across the room until you feel the sensor begin to vibrate. The initial vibrations are slower when detecting an object at long range, but they grow more rapid as you approach the wall. As before, test the feeling of approaching the wall at an angle vs straight on by turning your body and rotating your wrist. Again, you want the vibrations to be equal as the sensor points to either side. When you reach the wall, turn around and recross the room to where you started, noting the vibrations and slowing your progress as you approach the opposite wall.

Now, with your band in its long range, which defaults to 16 feet, go outside and walk in a straight line away from the building. Stop after about 30 feet. Return to the doors you came from, paying attention to when the band begins to vibrate. This will let you know when you’re a few cane-lengths from the building. Soon, the band will be vibrating constantly, which means you’re very close to the wall in front of you. You can then use your cane or other mobility tools to find the entrance.

Exercise 2: Finding a Corner

This exercise allows you to get an idea of the angles of walls and other objects that you can detect with the Sunu Band by learning to detect corners. When you can detect the corners of a space, you can more easily triangulate your position in that space.

With the band in its short range, face a concave (interior) corner from about 6 feet away so that the band isn’t vibrating at all. Without moving your feet, slowly turn your body left and right. The band should pulse slightly when you’re directly facing either of the two walls, but should barely vibrate or not vibrate at all when you’re directly facing the corner. Scan all the way to the left, then all the way to the right, and do it from several distances away from the apex of the corner. When you feel you are directly facing the apex of the corner, approach the corner. Repeat this exercise until you can approach the corner with precision.

Repeat this exercise in a larger space with the long range setting, following the same procedures to locate and approach a corner but from greater distances.

Exercise 3: Learning to Scan and Find Objects

This exercise is to help you determine an object’s presence and location by scanning, then approaching the object.

With your band set to its short range and in an open space of your choosing, ask a friend to stand approximately five feet away and to the side. Slowly scan by turning your body all the way to the left and all the way to the right. Stop moving when the Sunu Band changes its vibrations to let you know youíve located an object. Ask your friend to say something so you can confirm their location, then approach and find them. Then have them stand in another place. Again, turn your body until the Sunu Band changes its vibrations, and approach them as before. Continue this exercise until you can quickly scan with the band to find nearby objects. Your partner can also accomplish this exercise by placing objects such as chairs at different locations for you to scan and find.

Repeat this same exercise, in a larger space with the Sunu Band set to long range. Scan as before for the person or objects, and approach them as before.

Now, with your band in its long range, approach a parked car (in a safe space) and experiment to see when the band alerts you of the car’s presence. The car is much smaller than a building, but still a large, dense obstacle. Slowly walk toward the parked car. Stop when the vibration is constant. If you can, repeat this exercise with a car parked across a sidewalk. Use your other mobility tools to navigate around the car and continue down the sidewalk, paying attention to other obstacles as they appear along your path.

Repeat this same exercise with different types of objects such as trees, posts or pillars, bushes.

When detecting trees, be sure to angle your wrist so that the sensor points slightly upward. This will enable you to detect overhanging branches or branches at head height. Try finding a branch that is about head height. Use the sensor angled slightly upward to detect the branch. It will vibrate much as any object, but you will know it is at head height because of the angle of the sensor. Practice approaching the head height object as you did with other objects. When the vibrations indicate near proximity, reach up to find the object. Then, practice ducking under the object as you walk, using upper protective technique if you desire.

Exercise 4:  Walking parallel to walls and surfaces

Starting at one end of a long corridor with the band set to short range, center yourself in the corridor by rotating your wrist from side to side to scan for the distance between you and each wall. When the vibrations do not feel equal to either side, it means you are closer to one wall than the other. More rapid vibrations to one side mean you are closer to the wall on that side. Practice moving closer to one wall than the other, then try to center yourself by positioning yourself so that the vibrations are the same on both sides.

Now, walk forward along the hallway while scanning side to side with the Sunu Band  to keep yourself centered between the walls as you walk. Again, the vibrations should feel the same to either side as you walk. If they are growing more rapid on one side, this means you are angling or veering to one side. Keep yourself straightened out by keeping the vibrations equal to both sides as you scan.

Now, repeat this exercise, but along one wall outside of a corridor, perhaps in a gymnasium or outdoor wall. You will continue to scan from side to side as you walk while feeling the wall to one side through the vibrations. If the vibrations change as you walk, this means you are either angling toward or away from the wall as you walk. Try to keep the vibrations consistent.

Practice this same exercise with the Sunu Band set to long range, walking parallel to the wall from further and further distances, remembering also to scan across your path. It is a bit like using a cane that is 16 feet long to shoreline a wall.

Now, practice a variant of this exercise, but instead of walking along a solid wall, try walking along something softer, like a fence, hedge, or line of bushes. The vibrations will still be consistent, but they may be softer, gentler.

Finally, try walking along a line of people, as in a lunch line or line up to enter a classroom. Try keeping yourself parallel to the line of people. See if you can find the end of the line. The vibrations will stop as you scan when you reach the end of the line. Use your scanning for objects technique to locate where the last person is, and position yourself behind them.

Exercise 5:  Following Someone in a Line

This exercise helps you to track the movements of someone in front of you, such as in following someone as they move, or keeping track of a moving line of people.

Have someone stand in front of you. Scan with the band on short range until you feel them clearly through the vibrations. Move to about three feet distance where you feel the vibrations strong and fairly rapid. Then, have your partner move forward away from you. As you feel the rate of vibrations decrease, move toward the person to keep the rate of vibrations consistent. Try to keep the same distance between you and the person in front of you by maintaining the vibrations at roughly the same rate. If the vibrations suddenly stop, this probably means that the person is no longer in front of you. Either you have veered, or the person has turned. It is helpful to scan occasionally from side to side so you know where the person is.

Practice this exercise in a real line, such as a lunch line, remembering to keep the vibrations at a consistent rate as the line moves, and scanning occasionally so you know if you are veering off course, or if the line is turning.

Exercise 6: Finding a Doorway

This exercise helps you learn to find a clear path and gaps between objects by passing through openings.

With the band in its short range and your back to a wall, stand directly across from an open doorway. Slowly walk toward the doorway and stop if you feel the vibrations begin. Slowly turn your wrist until the vibrations end, then continue scanning with the device until you feel vibrations on the other side. The space between the vibrations is a small opening. It may feel a bit like centering yourself between two walls of a hallway as in exercise 2.You’ll know you’re walking toward the open doorway if you’re perpendicular to the wall but the band isn’t alerting you to any obstacles in front of you. Do this several times until you can cross the hall toward the doorway at a regular walking speed.

Now, repeat the exercise, but approach the doorway from different directions and different angles. As you scan, you should feel the space where there are no vibrations. That is where you want to aim your body in approaching the opening. Try to pass through the opening without touching the sides.

Exercise 7: Finding intersecting Hallways, aisle-ways, and passageways

This exercise helps you locate and enter intersecting hallways, passageways, and aisle-ways.

With your band in its short range, walk parallel to a wall in a corridor as you did in Exercise 2, until the band stops vibrating on one side. Continue to move forward until the band starts to vibrate again on that same side. Turn toward the space that is represented by the lack of vibrations. Scan side to side across the opening to see how wide it is. If it’s extremely narrow, it’s likely an open doorway. If it’s wide, it’s likely an intersecting hallway. Once you find an intersecting hallway, enter it to confirm what you’ve found by scanning to either side, then reverse your route and return to your starting location.

Repeat this exercise in a department store, preferably on a quiet day. Use the Sunu Band to follow the aisle-ways the same way you did to follow hallways. When the Sunu Band stops vibrating on one side, this means you have found an opening. Move into that opening as before. You can return to your starting point, or you can continue moving forward while scanning with the Sunu Band for the next opening, and repeat as before.

Now, with your band in its long range in a residential or business area, find the outside of a building and walk alongside it using what you learned in walking parallel to surfaces. Take note of when the band stops vibrating on the side where the building is. Scan along the building line and see if you can pick up another large object. If you can, continue to follow the building line for as long as possible until the gap between one building and the next becomes too wide to pick anything up when you scan. Use your cane or other mobility device to determine whether the sidewalk continues or if you need to cross a street or driveway, etc. You may also choose to turn into the passageway between buildings that is indicated by the lack of vibrations, similar to a very wide intersecting hallway.

Exercise 8: Getting to Know Places Better

This exercise encourages you to integrate the techniques you’ve learned to discover new things about spaces that are familiar or semi-familiar to you.

Using a combination of the techniques you’ve learned, walk down a familiar or semi-familiar sidewalk lined with trees, bushes, parked cars, and other obstacles. You may also choose complex indoor spaces, such as an office environment or shopping center with which you have some familiarity. Choose which range is most suitable for the environment your getting to know. What can you see? Does your band alert you to overhanging tree-branches? Shrubs blocking the sidewalk? People or display cases in your way? What information do you get from your other senses alongside the vibrations from the Sunu Band? See if you can keep track of which objects are where, then reverse your route. You may find that you can use the objects themselves as clues or landmarks along the way.

Exercise 9: Exploring and Discovering, Finding Your Way

This exercise encourages you to use a combination of your skills to venture out into places you with which you are less familiar or unfamiliar, and find your way around them.

In unfamiliar and semi-familiar environments, use your senses, primary mobility tool, and the Sunu Band together to see what you can learn about your space. Experiment with the short and long ranges on the device as well as the exercises you’ve already done. Maybe you prefer the short range for some indoor tasks but the long range for others. Maybe you prefer the short range while walking down familiar sidewalks, but the long range while exploring new ones. Every traveler will have their own preferences for the device. Get to know your own world. Enjoy!