I’ve rewritten this post about a thousand times. I’ve reconsidered putting it up. But I think it’s important so here goes nothing!
You might be able to tell from the photos what this post is about already but yep, I use a white cane. Despite being legally blind since birth, I never used a cane until this year. I never thought it was an option. I have some usable vision and I never realized low vision individuals use canes as well! Plus, growing up my parents either helped me out or I just got by. But when I started working in a community full of other blind people they suggested I get one. Now I use it everyday! I use when I’m on the bus, crossing the street, nighttime, etc.
It’s a strange transition going from being a very discrete blind person to people knowing by looking at you (with a cane) that you’re visually impaired. Before I used my cane people were often really shocked I was visually impaired because I got my degree in photography. But I’ve found there are benefits and drawbacks to using my cane. But the benefits definitely outweigh the drawbacks!
Some benefits: If I’m looking confused (for example, I got lost a few weeks ago) people are more likely to help me out, I feel much more safe walking around (I won’t fall off the curb or something), people hold the door open for you (lol), I get to board planes early and they help me find my seat etc. I feel a kind of independence I didn’t know I could achieve when I use my cane. I am definitely reaping the benefits.
I grew up feeling like I didn’t want people to know about my visual impairment. It became more of an issue when I was about to start college, jobs, etc. I was always so full of anxiety because what if I couldn’t do something?? Do I need to tell people right away about my vision problems?? But now it’s kind of a relief. I don’t really need to tell people because they already know once they see my cane!
The drawbacks are a bit more complicated.
There is a little box when you apply for jobs that ask if you have a disability and if you need reasonable accommodations. I always felt a bit iffy about this question because there are few things I can’t do (okay, I can’t use a chainsaw or drive). Plus, no one wants to hire someone who needs accommodations when they can hire someone who doesn’t when they don’t know what you even need.
When I first started applying to jobs, I always checked yes but then when I wasn’t getting results I started checking no. I got a few responses (the job hunting process for me was VERY difficult and draining). They also always ask if you have a valid drivers’ license, which I don’t. The problem with that question is they’re weeding out illegal workers or something – not blind people! But in turn, the blind end up getting weeded out. I ended up saying I had a license because I have a state issued ID, which should work.
It’s also an adjustment to get used to people treating you differently. Before I had my cane, I used to be pretty discrete, secretive almost, about my visually impairment. And now I have to get used to the fact that people might whisper when I walk by, stare at me, think I can’t do things, etc. I’m getting used to it but it’s definitely been an adjustment. But I also think it’s easier because at work I am surrounded by other blind people so I don’t feel out of place.
This is a much more personal post from me but I thought I’d share this part of my life because using a cane is something I’ve had to get used to the past few months and am now so thankful that I do use one.
If you have any questions regarding this topic – ask away!