Four years ago when I came out to California I didn’t have anything that would help me see better when going out alone. In 2014 I signed up with the Vocational Rehabilitation for the blind program that provided me with the tools that will accommodate my needs for being legally blind. They provided me with an optometrist who gave me eye glasses, sunglasses that had my proscription it, a magnifying glass, and a monocular. These tools didn’t need a lot of practice learning only a few tips on managing them from the eye doctor. My counselor from Vocational Rehab told me I will need to walk with a cane based on the eye doctors report surprisingly this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this personally I felt like I didn’t need that type of help because I thought I had pretty good vision, ‘Boy I was wrong.’ My counselor provided me with a mobility trainer that helps with learning the white cane and how to travel from crossing streets to using the buses and trains while using the cane.
When I first met my teacher Ms. Kimberly she told me it usually takes students from six months to a year to learn the cane I was fine with that even though I was a little annoyed. On the first day Ms. Kimberly said she needed to do a couple of test to see what type of vision I had so that she can teach me the proper cane techniques that will work with the type of vision I had. The next day we went outside of the apartment that was living at to the park that was over on the other side of the brick wall where we sat on the benches that was the closet to that wall. Then Ms. Kimberly and I set down on the benches and she asked me “what color is the wall” I told her “sand color” then she stood up and walked closer to the wall away from the benches and held up her hand and asked me if I could see her I said yes then she asked me to cover my left eye then asked “How many fingers am I holding up? “I couldn’t tell because it was to blurry then she ask to do the other eye so I did she asked me again “How many fingers am I holding up” I told her “two”. Ms. Kimberly then did another test where she tested my peripheral which was just her asking if I could see the stick she had coming from both sides of my eyes. After Ms. Kimberly was done with doing the test she told me with the vision I have it is best for me to walk around with a cane not all the time but sometime because I can’t see what would be coming towards me untill it’s only like a few inches away from me and that is not good for my safety because there is a lot can go wrong with that. Somehow I already knew that but I did not want to accept that. Finally, the next time we got together she gave me a blind fold because if I was ever to go fully blind I will already know how to use the cane without any vision. She explained to me how the cane should be at least a couple of inches above your shoulders, how to hold the cane, what techniques we will be learning and how there are two different canes. The ball rolling cane which rolls at the end and the cane that is flat at the end.
The cane that I practiced with was the flat ended cane which still has a little ball but doesn’t roll. We started working in doors because I needed to focus on the different sounds the cane made whenever there was a wall next to me and when there was an open space and the different sound that the floors made. During the lessons I also learned different styles when walking with the cane. The 2-point touch which is a technique in which pick up the end of the cane and tape from left to right starting off with the opposite leg from which the cane is taping, the constant contact which you drag the can on the floor from left to right starting with the opposite foot from which the cane is going, and the diagonal technique which is dragging the cane in front of you on the opposite side from which the hand you are holding the cane in. When learning these techniques and styles my teacher explained that most of these techniques I will not need to use because my vision wasn’t as worse than some people only in certain situations will a few will come in handy.
The lessons for being inside went on for only a few weeks because Ms. Kimberly told me that I was doing well enough to start new techniques. Once we started working outside it was a bit nerve wrecking because it was getting to that point where I had to learn different techniques for crossing a cross walk and crossing a stop sign. identify what type of neighbor hood I was in and identify land marks to help me get back to where I was. I had to learn when crossing the street when street is on the left side of you go when the same direction as the cars next to you and before you cross you have to tape the cane from left to right on the street to let the drivers know you are about to cross. When the street is on the right side of you walk when the cars are coming from the opposite way from you and again tape, tape then walk. Only a month passed by and I eventually got the hang of crossing the stop signs and regular two way lane red light. After learning all of the techniques among other things it was time for me to cross a four way lane and that was the most terrifying that I had to do it was so overwhelming for me I almost passed out in the middle of the street luckily I didn’t make it to crossing the street because we sat down and the ambulance came because someone thought I passed out. Once everything calmed down and I got something in my stomach which was part of the reason why I was dizzy. Ms. Limberly knew that I was overwhelmed so she gave me the rest of the week to rest and let everything soak in. Once I got back to learning I did really well once we finished all the lessons she told me that having the cane is not because something was wrong with me it was because I Just need more help getting around then others.
In conclusion walking with the cane was like starting at new school once I got use to it became like food to me I can’t live without. When I first heard that I haad to use the cane when I was younger I was not mature about it and I didn’t want to keep the lessons going I only did them for a couple of weeks then stopped but now since I’ve gotten older it helped me realize that I am stronger and more independent and aware of the things that is helpful for me in life. I use my cane more now then I ever did as a child.