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Tips for the Directionally Challenged: Seeing Street Addresses

Posted by on Apr 14, 2013 in Directional Sense, Directionally challenged, street addresses, Tips for the Directionally Challenged, Wayfinding | 0 comments

Tips for the Directionally Challenged: Seeing Street Addresses

Has this ever happened to you?  You have an appointment in a medical office building or other place where you’ve never been before. You know the street address, you’ve followed your directions or GPS faithfully, but when you get there, you can’t verify that it’s the building you want: you just can’t see an address.

Verifying that a particular building is the destination you’re seeking is part of the process of finding your way around, but it’s not always easy to do.  Here are some reasons why you might need to be an address sleuth and a few tips for homing in on an address number.


Why Might the Address not be Obvious?

  • It might be too small to see easily.
  • It might be “camouflaged” (like brown numbers on a brown wall).
  • It might be hidden (views to it could be blocked by trees or shrubs).
  • It might be in a place where you wouldn’t think to look (like on a decorative planting fence, or on a ground-mounted identification sign placed away from the building).
  • It might be so decorative that you don’t recognize it as an address number.
  • It might be absent altogether.


How Can You Find the Address?

Before you leave home:

  • Ask how to recognize the destination, including a general description (such as “3-storey brick building) and unique features (“red sculpture in front”).
  • Ask if the building has a name, and if it is clearly displayed.
  • See if there’s an online photo. If so, print it and take it with you before you leave or send it to your smart phone or tablet.

When you’re there:

  • Look all around: at the top of the building, over the door, on the side of the door, on a canopy, on an identification sign, on the ground, on the curb, on a mailbox, etc.
  • Use the process of elimination: look at addresses on either side or across the street. For example, if you’re searching for 2404 and you can see 2402 on one side and 2406 on the other, you’re probably at the right place.
  • Go inside and look at a building directory to see if your destination is listed.
  • Ask the first friendly person you see.



If you’re directionally challenged and have trouble remembering what destinations look like and if you’ll be returning to this place, use your phone to snap a quick photo of the front of the building before you leave. That way, finding it on your next visit will be a breeze.

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If you’re directionally challenged you need Directional Sense: How to Find Your Way Around, by Janet R. Carpman and Myron A. Grant.


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