Welcome back to the blog.
Today is an important day to talk to you all about the white cane. That’s because, six years ago today, I was finally able to use a white cane totally on my own, after a month long Orientation and Mobility training—on how to use a white cane and how to navigate the world around me in a brand new way, that is, as a visually impaired person. In today’s blog, I hope to share with you my experiences, as a relatively experienced white cane user now, with using a traditional and a custom white cane.
Looking back, obviously, when I was first started out, I was given a traditional white cane to use. My first white cane was a very simple, not very pleasing looking aluminum cane. The sections (I had a 4 section cane), got stuck a lot, especially during the freezing cold months in winter, I didn’t like that at all. Because when that happens, I couldn’t fold the cane together as easily. I remembered, I even missed one class in school, because my cane got stuck, and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t close it properly, so I wasn’t able to go to class. And another time, I don’t know if it was because of the cane itself, but the cane tip broke, in one freezing cold and blizzard afternoon, I had to call my O&M instructor to come to my school to “rescue” me. Luckily, I didn’t have any other problems with my other white canes or cane tips ever since.*knock on wood*
After about six months of using a traditional white cane, I wanted to get a “less blind looking cane”and guess what! Lucky me! There was this pink-white cane in my O&M instructor’s office that caught my attention. It’s a white cane where all of its sections are white, instead of the usual red on the last section, and, the golf club handle was bright pink, instead of the normal black. I got the cane and was very happy.
Over the years, I have used my traditional and my pink-white cane interchangeably. If I wanted to be a little more expressive, I’d use the pink-white cane, if I needed to go to somewhere new, or I know I’d need assistance from others, I’d use my traditional white cane, just to be more noticeable by others.
Since I received my first pink-white cane, I’ve been eyeing to get a pink cane, I don’t really know why pink, even though it’s not really my favourite colour. But what I do know is that I simply want a cane that is bright, very expressive, different, and unique! So finally, this past summer, I got myself such a cane! I decided that, after being a white cane user for nearly 6 years, it’s time for real change and transformation. To be honest, I’ve thought about both the benefit and the disadvantage of using a custom white cane, I worried what if people don’t understand the cane. What if people don’t be as helpful. And what if, this could potentially put me in danger? But I then quickly realized, not even EVERYONE in this world knows what a traditional white cane is, either! And besides, I can always decide on when and where to use my custom pink cane. I can decide that, for example, I’ll use it only in places I know very well and won’t likely need any assistance from others. I’ll use it when I’m with friends and family, etc. Also, by getting a custom white cane, I’m not completely abandoning my traditional white cane. And in fact, despite a custom white cane doesn’t look like a white cane, it functions as one. I use it with the same techniques, as I would with a traditional white cane.
So… what’s the result? I totally over-worried my worries! I didn’t have to think about whether people will be helpful or not, just because my cane is pink and not white. Helpful people will always be helpful, and of course, the unhelpful ones, will remain unhelpful. And for the most part, people around me do get it. They would still move out of my way to give me space. There are still people offering to give me assistance when they see I might need it. Even though this pink cane is pink, another good thing is that, it actually has the reflective (pink) tape, so technically, it is also safe to use even at night. Although, I have not used it at night as of yet.
I do also want to say, I know throughout this blog thus far, I’ve said a lot about my custom pink cane, but pink actually isn’t the only custom cane I got. Weeks after getting the pink cane, I decided to get a second cane, in purple. I’ve not used this purple cane in public just yet, because I discovered several issues with this particular cane, and decided to only use it in certain settings— first, the purple tape is not reflective, so this cane technically wouldn’t be safe to use at night, (this was a disappointment, because I thought all coloured/custom canes have reflective tapes). Second, I was curious about a particular material called fibreglass for canes, so I ordered this purple cane in this material, it is more heavy than expected (I knew it would be, based on the website), and I also wanted a cane that would be more heavier and sturdier for the colder and windier winter weather. For the record, both my new pink cane and my previous pink-white cane are made of graphite, so they’re the lightest canes, and they are also the most durable. I’ll have to test out the purple cane in the winter, to see if it’ll work out the way I’d hoped or not. But, I actually do not like the fibreglass (or the aluminum) canes as much if I’m honest. I think I’ll stick with graphite for the time being.
So, this concludes today’s blog all about canes—especially my custom canes. Do you use a cane? A white cane, or another mobility tool? Would you decorate or customize your mobility tools? Leave your thoughts in the comments! For the record, I’m sure this will not be the last of my custom white canes, I already have plans to maybe get one more custom cane in the near future. Can you guess what colour will my next custom cane be? Hint: it’s one of my favourite colours!
By: The Invisible Vision Project