The blind rehabilitation training was key and essential for my health. Prior to admittance to the blind rehabilitation center (BRC), I was experiencing double vision, headaches and severe depression. I needed help, thus, I decided to be an inpatient at the Southeastern Blind Rehab Center SBRC) at the Birmingham VA Hospital.
The instructors fully understood my situation and convinced me that I was okay, I just had to adjust to my “new normal”. That motivated me to the max. Since my white cane was to become my outward sign of being visually impaired, I wanted others to understand the importance of the white cane. The use of the White Cane has major significance. Many people did not understand the significance of the cane and why it is very important – Immediately, I became an advocate for the Visually Impaired Veteran.
As a visually impaired veteran, I must use my mobility aid called the white cane. Initially, I did not want to use a white cane, because I thought my vision was still very good; I could still function without help, but over time, I lost depth perception and peripheral vision. This meant that I could not see on the sides of me, only straight ahead. Also looking down became fuzzy and blurry, so stairs and sidewalk curbs were difficult to navigate.
I received training on the use of the white cane at the Birmingham VA. A certified orientation and mobility instructor (Chris Davis) met with me one-on-one for several weeks and taught me how to properly use the white cane. Over several weeks, I gained confidence and found the white cane to not only be beneficial, but essential to my mobility and travel.
When I first started using my white cane, I learned how to cross busy streets and intersections. This included how important it was to have my white cane directly in front of my body so that motorist could see it clearly. To a motorist driving down the street or hovering at a street light; the white cane stands out, because of its color and the red strips help deflect a vehicle’s headlights.
Everyday, I grab my white cane, which as enabled me to travel safely and confidently detecting stairs, sidewalk curbs, doorways and obstacles along the way. It gives me the added security and protection I need so that I don’t stumble, fall or run into things. My white cane also identifies me as being a person with a vision impairment. When people see my white cane they have a better understanding of my situation and can respond accordingly. I am no longer embarrassed to carry or use my cane.
October 15th of each year is White Cane Safety Day. I have learned how important it is to know and be aware of the laws that protect white cane travelers. The first National White Cane Day was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
It designated October 15th as National White Cane Safety Day. Georgia went a step further and created a state law and protection for those pedestrians, like me, that use a white cane.
Here is a summary of the law:
- Only people who are blind or visually impaired should travel with a white cane.
- When a motorist comes in contact with a person traveling with a white cane at an intersection that driver should come to an immediate stop to avoid injury or harm to the white cane traveler.
- Any person who is in violation of the above will be guilty of a misdemeanor.
It is important that motorist know and obey the rules of the road, including posted speeds. For those of you who drive, please be a courteous and cautious driver. Please remember to observe the White Cane Law so that we all can travel safely to our destinations.
I hope this provides some insight to you on why the white cane is important and this helps me too.