Laura’s blog: The first time I used my cane
At RNC (Royal National College for the Blind), we encourage our students to find their voice and to share their experiences with others about what they have been through. One thing which students often find difficult is accepting their visual impairment, many students have been bullied in the past and can be embarrassed to disclose their sight loss let alone use mobility aids which highlight their visual impairment. In the blog below, Laura talks about what it has been like to use a cane.
Laura; through my eyes
“Hi everyone, my name is Laura. I am 19 years old from Derbyshire, England, and I have been a long cane user for two and a half years now. It does not mean I can’t see at all. I can see a bit, but not enough to travel around safely, not without bumping in to things because I don’t see them until the last minute. Before RNC I was adamant I wouldn’t use a cane. Not even a symbol cane which a mobility officer at Guide Dogs tried to encourage me to use when crossing roads to alert drivers I had a visual impairment. I just didn’t want people to see me with any sort of cane. I didn’t know what people would think and I didn’t want to look different. I felt embarrassed. I didn’t want to attach a label to myself saying I had a problem.
This all changed when I went to a have a go weekend for the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford (RNC). This was the first time in my life where I saw people using canes, and even people of a similar age to me using them. I began to mix and make friends there and realise that they weren’t embarrassed or uncomfortable with using their canes. I began to feel more comfortable with a notion of trying a cane. I felt as though I wasn’t the only one who was visually impaired and that gave me the confidence I needed.
The first time I used my cane I felt a bit nervous but I was determined to try. I was amazed at the difference it made in helping me. People moved out of my way and walked on the other side of the pavement, I didn’t have to try and dodge them. People called their dogs over instead of me having to try navigating around them. Parents held on to their toddler’s hands instead of letting them go freely with me having to get past them. Another thing I noticed was having a cane is the ability to feel for kerbs instead of mum having to warn me about them.
A few weeks ago I woke up full of confidence and drive that this was going to be the day that I would cross the road and walk into the village on my own. I was a bit nervous but I was determined to succeed. I knew the way like the back of my hand, I had walked through the village plenty of times with mum and I had grown familiar with it. I was so thrilled with myself when I crossed that road. I felt really grown-up. I even went to the Co-op and bought a chocolate bar for the first time ever. Walking home, through the park and up to the reservoir to our road which would take me home, I felt like I had achieved something. I felt so proud and elated I couldn’t stop grinning for days after it. I feel so confident now, with my cane, it’s untrue.”
What RNC can do for you
All new students at RNC receive one to one sessions in mobility training and Stephanie Mackey, Teacher in Charge of Mobility and Independence, explains “Every year we have new students who come to College without having any independent mobility skills as they may have been guided everywhere by a family member or a support worker, and every year we meet students who are reluctant to use canes but when they’re in a setting like RNC where maybe half the students use a cane, that self-conscious element goes.”
Watch the video below to learn more about gaining independence at RNC;
If you are aged between 13-17, come along to our free Have a Go weekend in February!
If you want to find out how RNC can help you, please call our student enquiries team on 01432 376 621 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Article written by Bik Lee, Digital Media Officer at RNC