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From Passing To Passion—Finding Strength In The White Cane

Ambutech White Cane with a neon green grip and neon yellow section nearest the tip.
Ambutech White Cane

The thing that bothered me most about my sight loss was my fear of people knowing I couldn’t see. Everywhere I went I felt so vulnerable and isolated not to mention, my anxiety levels rocketed off into the stratosphere.

So what did I do as my sight deteriorated to the point where each step I took was a step closer to breaking my neck? I faked it.

Adjusting to sight loss is a process and everyone who goes through it does so in a different way. I was so used to putting on my professional mask to face each day, it was important to me that people saw what I wanted them to see—a composed person. Yet at the end of each day, and sometimes throughout the day while hidden in a restroom stall, I was a blubbering mess who felt my life was unraveling.

In addition to indicating that a person is blind or visually impaired, the long thin white cane is more than just a mobility tool for blind and vision impaired users. It is also a badge of strength and boldness. It provides the means for us to take back our lives, regardless of where we fall on the sight loss spectrum.”

Tri collage of me posing in front of my counter with my white cane wearing a black off the shoulder choker top, white jeans, black suede chunky high heels and silver jewelry.When I met with a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) to discuss the assistive technology I would need to keep my job, I was stunned when he mentioned the white cane. I expected to answer questions to determine my needs but it never crossed my mind that the white cane would be part of the discussion. I mean I couldn’t see but I wasn’t blind. I had a lot to learn.

“The only person you are fooling is yourself when you pretend you CAN see when you clearly CAN’T,” this comment from the VRC didn’t go over well with me. Even so, I grudgingly took Orientation and Mobility training to learn how to use the white cane and once my lessons were over the cane remained in my closet for quite some time.

My eventual acceptance of the white cane came about as I began to accept my sight loss. Meeting and befriending blind people who strongly advocate for the rights of blind persons led me to volunteer for several blind organizations. Becoming a part of the blind community and refocusing my efforts on helping others was the most important piece that ultimately gave me a sense of peace.

I still have days where I don’t feel as secure as I’d like, we all do, but when I come back to my why, I can recharge, readjust, and refocus to stoke the fire of my passion. Improving humanity by changing the way we perceive one another is my mission and to achieve it I must continue moving forward and doing so with my white cane. I’ve found that being Bold Blind and Beautiful comes about from living life to the best of my ability.

 

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Blind Beauty Issue #5 | Liz Oleksa

“I had lost my sight in September 2012 from Diabetic Retinopathy. Logan (son) had seen how I went from living my life as a person who was sighted and had no self-confidence, to being a person with no physical sight and finally being proud of who I am. I finally can walk in a room with my head held high, knowing that I am enough and that I don’t need to prove myself to anyone except myself.” ~Liz Oleksa

Liz, aka Her Royal Blindness, is the President of the Lehigh Valley Council of Blind.

Description: Featured image is a mock magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Liz Oleksa, her son, Logan and guide dog Bryce Krispie are on the cover. Liz and Logan are both smiling while Bryce Krispie is looking intensely at the camera.

Blocks of text superimposed on Liz & Logan’s photo are: “Bold | She Keeps Pressing Onward,” “Blind | She Has Deeper Insight,” “Beautiful | She Sees To The Heart Of Others”

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Abby’s Reflections #36 | What’s In A Name?

Abigale comes from Abilities + Nightingale (the small ordinary brown bird known for its extraordinary voice). Sometimes things aren’t as they might appear. ~Abigale

Changing perceptions is a massive undertaking but I believe anything is possible. If we could throw out everything we THINK we KNOW about a GROUP of people, allow ourselves to be accepting, and place our focus on INDIVIDUALS it brings us closer to inclusivity.

Description: A white, teal, and gray Bold Blind Beauty template utilizing the ‘Abby’s Corner’ image of Abby sitting cross-legged in her PJs (gray bottoms & white top with a gray collar) with a teal Abby logo laptop on her lap. Sporting her signature explosive hairstyle, she is wearing a headset with microphone and her white cane is propped up next to her.

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Blind Beauty Issue #4 | Angie Roberts

“Often people think because you’re blind you can’t make yourself look good. I love fashion and accessories, I have odd eyes but never wear my prosthetic lens, I love to be different one brown eye one blue grey, I wear my make up and go about my day!” ~Angie Roberts

A year after her heart attack at age 36, Angie was registered as blind. At that time she thought it was the end…and yet here she is, a believer in one should never give up hope no matter how dark you feel.

Description: Featured image is a mock magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Angie Roberts is on the cover looking like a rock star in her fabulous shades, a sheer black cover-up over a black flapper dress, and jewelry. Blocks of text superimposed on Angie’s photo are: “Bold | She Keeps Pressing Onward,” “Blind | She Has Deeper Insight,” “Beautiful | She Sees To The Heart Of Others”