« Back to Blog
Author image

By Nathalie Bufton, Head of Independent Living Skills at NCW

Blog published 12th December 2017 | Category: Supporting VI Students

As with any household, occasionally our appliances at NCW stop working and we need to make an informed decision about what we will buy to replace them.

Recently our department vacuum cleaner had to be replaced. Cleaning is a skill we teach students at NCW in their journey to independence, and effective vacuum cleaning is one of those tasks that many people take for granted.

As a team, we decided that a cordless vacuum was a good idea for trip-free cleaning. We also considered noise sensitivity and knew we needed something light and manoeuvrable. After some research checking specifications and reviews we decided on a GTech AirRam, a high performance model which is quiet, cordless and effective on different floor surfaces. It is reportedly also excellent for pet hairs – a great option for a guide dog user.

So how does someone vacuum effectively with little or no sight? At NCW we teach two main methods. The first is called a fan method. The user stands square against a door or in the corner of the room with the vacuum cleaner (in the case of an upright) or hose and brush (in the case of a cylinder cleaner) directly in front of the body. The user then pushes the cleaner forward and returns to the starting point before slightly angling the cleaner head to the left to move forwards then return to starting position. The user then angles the cleaner head to the right and move forwards then returns cleaner to centre of body. Taking a step forward these steps are repeated again until the other side of the room is reached. It can be useful to practise using a long cane to develop the action required.

The second method is to vacuum the room in a block: The user starts off as in the fan method, but walk with the vacuum cleaner/hose in a straight line down the room, turning at the end of the room, then taking a step to the left or right and walk back up the room.

Ilya in year 8 came to collect the new cleaner from the showroom. In the car, he confessed that he had never vacuumed before and hastily added that he was a quick learner so it would be okay. He certainly was and worked the showroom manager to clean a carpet, take the cleaner apart, charge it and empty the dust into the bin. Ilya said he loved how tactile it was and the audio clues it gave back to him. He even said that he might do the vacuuming at home, if he had one!

Thank you Gtech for our AirRam –it will keep our students learning effectively for years!

Ilya vacuuming at GTech

Follow NCW

You can find us on twitter as well as content on YouTube

YouTube icon Chris Stonehouse photo