In honour of White Cane Day on 15 October, Sue Emirali writes about an epiphany her and her friend Gail had which changed their lives.

Gail Mann and I had our epiphany at around the same time and like most people that think they have discovered the knowledge of the universe we have become evangelistic about the simple device called the white cane.

As partially sighted Blind Low Vision NZ members we had both had our canes for some time and took them everywhere, in our handbags! Mine even did a Tour of Europe from the comfort of the bag!

Gail tells us what she loves about her mobility device and fashion accessory.

We have spoken to a lot of people about the reluctance some of us have to identifying as being blind or vision impaired by using the cane in public. It’s almost like saying I am not the same person, I now lack independence and need this aid to get around. Whether it’s pride or a fierce desire to be ‘normal’ we have never quite understood but it is a real issue for many.

Let us reassure you it will be the best move you ever make to elevate this simple device to being part of your hand and take it everywhere.

Not only does it keep you safe it also lets other people know that you don’t see very well and means you can move safely around your environment. It is a simple device that only needs new tips from time to time, depending on how far you walk, and never argues about where you are going! I love starting conversations with people when they ask ‘what is that for?’ Unfortunately this still happens far too often and shows our work around awareness of the white cane needs to continue.

Blind Low Vision NZ offer members training to confidently use the White Cane and we would whole heartedly recommend you request training from your Primary Service Provider. There are many small tips and hints they can offer and getting you the right sized cane is just the beginning. There are also White support canes for those that require more support and may not be as mobile as others. There are various sized tips available for all types of surfaces and mobility needs.

If you are interested in Orientation and Mobility training, talk to your Primary Service Provider or contact us on 0800 24 33 33 or email info@blindlowvision.org.nz