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Mar 9, 2020

The Way I See It: Restoring Confidence With The White Cane

Person walking with a white cane

The long white cane serves to identify a person who has a visual impairment but is designed primarily to be used as a mobility tool. Increasing detection range to nearly a meter, the long white cane provides rich information about ground-level obstacles and the nature of the surfaces one is walking upon.

Marlene Cust shares her story with Fighting Blindness Canada on how the white cane has supported her in and throughout her vision loss journey.

I was given my first mobility cane while receiving training in orientation and mobility by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) in 2008 when I attained ‘legally blind’ status, but I was resistant to using it. I felt it stigmatized me as ‘disabled’. I found that many people did not recognize the purpose of the white cane, seeing it as a fancy walking stick, hiking pole, or ‘crutch’. From strangers, acquaintances, friends, and family members, I heard comments like, “Why do you have that stick?  Where can I buy one of those?  You don’t really need that cane.  You don’t look blind!” I allowed myself to feel embarrassed and intimidated by such comments, leading me to feel the need to tuck me white cane away in my closet. By doing so I had convinced myself that I didn’t really need it. And so I went on, tripping and falling, and bumping into things, often hurting myself in the process. 

After some time, I finally recognized that the biggest hurdle I had to overcome was my own attitude, not that of other people. I decided to make my safety a priority, change my perspective and use the white cane consistently in my day-to-day life. Making that decision turned things around for me.  The white cane gave me a new found freedom, independence, confidence, and competence, proving invaluable in helping me navigate and avoid many stumbles, bumps, falls, and encounters.

Although the white cane does not detect all obstacles and hazards, for example hanging objects, low ceilings, sized of crowds, it does help me prevent many accidents. I continue to rely on my long white cane as the most basic, dependable, versatile, and affordable mobility device. .

-Marlene Cust

We thank Marlene for sharing her story with us. We were so inspired to learn how the white cane helped her build confidence. If you have a story to share, please email us your story at info@fightingblindness.ca with the subject line: My Story, for a chance to be featured in our monthly e-newsletter.

Do you or a loved one require a white cane, or are looking for mobility training to help support safety and build confidence? Please contact CNIB at 1 800 563 – 2642.

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