I read a story by Dr. Chris Kuell this week and I pulled this quote from it…

“My cane does announce to the world that I’m blind, but I’m okay with that. It only symbolizes inferiority in the hands of those who don’t have the skills and confidence to use it properly. When I’m walking down the street, it signals to cars and pedestrians alike that I’m going places.” – Dr. Chris Kuell

In my short time as a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, I’ve learned that for most people learning to use a white cane can be very tough.  This toughness can be physical when in training the person uses arm muscles a lot to move the cane.  But mostly it is an emotional toughness.  They must admit not only to themselves but also to their friends, family and the public that their vision is either leaving or gone.  Using a cane does not allow them to hide their disability anymore.

When people lose their sight they go through a grieving process.  Most people go through denial, anger and depression which could be a short amount of time or a year or longer.  This can also occur to individuals who lose some sight but keep a remainder (low vision).  (Most of the people who I’ve worked with who have low vision say the worst part was losing their driver’s license.)

I wish people looked at their cane the way Dr. Chris Kuell now looks at his cane.  (He did not always feel this way…)  Yes, a cane does “label” a person as blind but that can be a very good thing.  Using a white cane gives the pedestrian the right of way and also makes drivers be a little bit more carefully.  People should not think that their cane shows off their disability but instead shows off their capabilities.  Just like Dr. Chris Kuell said, “…it signals to cars and pedestrains alike that I’m going places.”

If you’d like to read all of Dr. Chris Kuell’s story follow this link. http://www.blindskills.com/jul_aug_2007_sample3.html