TREKKER BREEZE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The Trekker Breeze and other GPS devices have revolutionized travel for blind people. We at the Guide Dog Foundation are proud to offer training with this device to enhance your orientation and mobility. Though these devices are powerful aids, they cannot replace your own skills at orienting yourself and making decisions about your environment. They also do not replace the work of your dog in detecting danger, obstacles or precise locations. Below you will find some frequently asked questions about the Trekker Breeze, GPS in general and our training program to better help you understand the device and decide if it is right for you.
GPS Technology and Trekker Breeze
Q: What is the Trekker Breeze?
A: The Trekker Breeze is a device manufactured and sold by Humanware, http://www.humanware.com, to assist in orientation and mobility for blind people. It works using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. The Breeze can tell you about intersections, points of interest along your routes and can help you mark specific places as you walk.
Q: Do I need to be a computer whiz to use the Breeze?
A: No, but some knowledge of computer concepts is required. You will also need access to a computer to change maps and update the device. The Breeze comes with a very easy to use program called Map Manager that allows you to perform several different types of exchanges with the Breeze device from your computer.
Q: Does the Breeze have a lot of little buttons or controls I’ll have to memorize?
A: No. the Breeze has 9 buttons on the face of the device that you will use to control it, an on/off switch and volume wheel. Though it does have a number of functions, they are easily learned during your training.
Q: Can the Breeze work inside buildings?
A: No, GPS technology relies on being able to “see the sky” to read and transmit information from orbiting satellites. Sometimes your device may pick up satellites through large windows in buildings but it will not be accurate.
Q: Can a GPS device like the Breeze guide me directly to the door of a building? Just how accurate is GPS?
A: When using any civilian GPS device, imagine yourself walking in the center of a 10 to 15 foot circle. Depending on how many satellites your device can see, accuracy may be less than this, but generally, things will be found within this 10 to 15 foot range from your actual position. In other words, the Breeze and other GPs devices will get you close to something. Your own orientation skills, dog and/or cane will get you the rest of the way there.
Q: Can I look at areas without being there, virtually walking them using the Breeze?
A: No. the Breeze can review routes you have already walked and recorded but cannot review places you have not already traveled and recorded.
Q: What does the Breeze tell me about intersections?
A: The Breeze can tell you as you are approaching a street, the street name and design, such as a 3-way, 4-way, etc., intersection. It cannot tell you if the intersection has a stop light or other traffic control though.
Q: Does the Breeze work inside a car, taxi or bus?
A: Yes, the Breeze works well in most vehicles unless there is metal tinting on the windows. Once you are traveling over 10 miles per hour, the Breeze goes into vehicle mode and does not announce points of interest along the way unless queried.
Q: I hear the terms “landmark” and “point of interest” when discussing the Breeze. What do these terms mean?
A: A “landmark” is a specific location you set by being there and recording it in your own voice. You must be at the location in order to set it as a landmark, using your own voice. If you know the physical address of a place, you can set it as a landmark by using the Breeze’s keypad like a telephone keypad to enter text. You will learn how to do this during your training.
A “point of interest” is a pre-defined location that comes with the Trekker Breeze maps. Some examples include restaurants, banks, stores, schools and parks.
Q: Can I plan a route somewhere using the Breeze?
A: You can receive guidance to either a landmark or point of interest once on the street but you cannot plan a route prior to travel if you have not previously walked and recorded it.
Q: How does being guided to a landmark or point of interest work?
A: If you are out walking and wish to receive guidance to a landmark or point of interest, you will invoke that command from the Breeze. It will then give you instructions as to how to get to that location as you go, either on the street grid, or if in a parking lot or other open area, using clock face directions. You can ask the Breeze as you go for the next turn or instruction and how far it is to the destination.
Guide Dog Foundation Trekker Breeze Training
Q: What requirements are there to take part in the Foundation’s Trekker Breeze Training Program?
A: You must be a solid working team with your dog, be able to travel to the Foundation campus to attend class for 4 days, Monday through Thursday, and need a GPs device for increased mobility.
Q: What will I learn during the class?
A: The goal of our training is to teach you how to use the trekker Breeze safely while working your dog. We want you to combine listening to the Breeze, trusting your dog and using your own orientation skills. A team of Trekker Trainers will work with you. Fellow graduates from the Foundation will teach you the operation of the Breeze. Guide dog instructors will work with you on routes to assure your safety and help you work your dog and use the Breeze information at the same time.
Q: Is there any cost for the device and training?
A: No. the Trekker Breeze and 4-day training are free to qualified graduates.
Q: If I have hearing loss, can I use the Trekker Breeze?
A: It depends on the severity of your hearing loss. If you can hear a speaker placed near your shoulder or otherwise hear the output of the Breeze with things like assisted listening devices, while still being able to hear ambiant noise like traffic, you can use the trekker breeze. It does not have a means for braille or large print output. We can work with you regarding any hearing loss so please do let us know on the application if you use hearing aids or other devices.
Q: What do I need to do to apply for the Trekker Breeze Training?
A: Complete and submit the application. Our Trekker classes are small, 3 to 4 participants, so it may take some time to schedule you for a class if you are qualified. We appreciate your interest and patience.
Who to Contact:
Please contact Jenine Stanley, firstname.lastname@example.org, should you have any further questions about our Trekker Breeze program.