Last year, I was moving out of my dorm when a staff member asked why I don’t take my blindness cane with me everywhere I go. They were wondering how I was able to walk independently without it and where I put it when I wasn’t using it. It was a great educational opportunity and I was glad to take the time to talk to them, even though I was frantically trying to fit everything into plastic bins. Today, I will be sharing seven places I don’t take my blindness cane, and why.
When I am inside my house, I store my blindness cane on a hook or otherwise fold it in my backpack. I feel confident enough to navigate my house without assistance, given that I am used to the layout and there are people around to help me if need be. If I am visiting a friend’s house for the first time, I will keep my cane with me, but my friends are great human guides so I typically don’t need to take out the cane unless there are pets sleeping on the floor.
Whenever I go on a plane, I have to set my cane on the conveyor belt with the rest of my possessions. Having a TSA Pre-Check has helped to speed up my trip through security dramatically, though I try to make sure my cane is the first item on the conveyor belt so I can get it back quickly. Since all I have to do is walk in a straight line into the metal detector, I don’t need to rely on my blindness cane too much anyway.
Okay, I do keep my canes inside my dorm room – they hang on a hook next to the door. But I don’t use my cane when I am walking around my dorm room or apartment. This confused my suitemates a lot, because they expected that a vision impaired person like me would constantly be carrying a blindness cane with them, but again, it was a great educational opportunity to explain why I use my cane.
If I am walking around a familiar classroom, I will not use my cane to navigate because I know the layout well. That said, students who use blindness canes in school will likely not need to have their cane out all the time, since they spend a lot of time in the classroom. One important thing to note though is that teachers and professors should let a vision impaired student know if the layout of the classroom has changed. My teachers watched me walk into many desks because no one told me they had been moved around!
If I am walking a very short distance, such as to take out the trash or meet someone at the door, I do not use my blindness cane because I am not really going anywhere. This seems to confuse a lot of people, because they often see me walking around campus with my blindness cane and wonder why I’m not using it at that exact moment. Since there aren’t too many obstacles from my dorm to the trash room or to the front door, I don’t feel the need to use my cane.
Okay, this one is a little strange, but I’ve met people who were convinced I would take my blindness cane into the bathroom, shower, swimming pool, or other places involving water. While I do hang my cane on the door hook if I am using a public bathroom, my cane does not get submerged in water unless I accidentally fall in a river or something like that. I do use my cane when walking on the pool deck, though.
Whenever I am performing with my college pep band or am otherwise on a stage, my cane is out of sight. I can’t hold my cane and play bass clarinet at the same time, and I’m usually not walking anywhere while I am playing. Many students who participate in theater also do not use their canes onstage and instead rely on human guides or tactile guides on the floor to get to where they need to be.
My blindness cane has helped me tremendously with expanding my independence and allowing me to freely explore many different places, though part of maintaining my independence means that I don’t have to use my cane for every mundane task. These are just my personal preferences for using a blindness cane (or rather not using a blindness cane), so don’t panic if you use a cane in these situations. My blindness cane is not surgically attached to me, it is just a mobility tool that helps me explore the world around me through touch.
By Veronica Lewis/Veronica With Four Eyes, www.veroniiiica.com
Updated February 2024; original post published ay 2019.
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