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The Checkered Eye Project

People wearing this symbol have partial blindness aka low vision.

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First White Cane Walk

Today for the first time ever I walked uptown and back carrying my white ID cane the whole time.  I’ve had one for many years and used it lots when I’m travelling  on my own but never here in my home town.  I still don’t need it to feel my way around but since my sight has deteriorated a bit recently and I’ve been having a bit more trouble determining whether or not there is a car coming, I decided it’s safer to use it than not. The gorgeous sunshine made the idea of a walk very appealing but it also makes it difficult for me to see.

A few months ago I scrapped the quick and convenient transport of my bicycle, unless of course I’m taking a particularly safe route and the lighting is just right, and of course it’s not rush minute here in teeny weeny Port Elgin. So today when I had a few errands to run and my driver was not available, I took out my little traffic safety beacon and headed out on foot.

Actually, I second guessed my decision several times before I left the house. It all happened within the few minutes it took to put on my coat and shoes; maybe I’ll leave it in my purse till I’m walking back with the sun in my eyes…but no, there’s that trouble spot right up the block…well I can just get it out then…but sometimes a situation arises unexpectedly when I wish I had it in my hand… okay, I’m getting it out now and keeping it out!

So that’s what I did.  It was fine.  Nobody pointed and laughed.  Nobody called me a faker when I looked at my watch.  Oh yeah but there was that girl in the bank who looked at my cane and asked if I was going to wack people.  I think she was intellectually challenged so I said no and then asked her if she knew what the cane meant.  She said no so I told her it means I can’t see well, pointed to my checkered eye and told her it means the same thing.  She said “you should have a dog” and walked away!  I irritated myself for a second and then just chuckled.  What can you do!?.

All in all, it was a good experience.  I didn’t feel self-conscious and I did feel safer.  It was the right thing to do today.

Comments: 1 Comment

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  • Comment by Rosalind Zaugg on Jan 16, 2017

    Hi Libby,

    I completely understand your reluctance to use a white cane. I moved hous at the end of last year, and in my new surroundings in Geneva, I have to use a white cane when I go out, something I used to avoid in the village where we lived for more than thirty years. In the past few years, I've always had my cane in my bag, but only took it out when I felt the need for help or understanding. However, my vision is now so bad that an ID cane is not sufficient, and in fact few people seem to understand what it means, whereas the long white cane is more visible and usually understood. I now have new journeys to learn. People are kind and helpful when they see the cane, but of course I wish I didn't need this help! And I, too, get rather irritated by the people who seem to assume that you can either see well or you are blind - they don't know how many people are struggling with partial sight. We don't all need or want a guide dog - and we also want to be seen as individuals, ordinary people . I don't like the feeling that for most of the people in my apartment building, I'm probably mor identifiable by the white cane than by my face.

    All the very best to you and your family in the New Year.

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