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White Cane Guru Leads The Way To Independence

White Cane Guru featured image description is in the body of the post.

White Cane Guru Leads The Way To Independence

Intro: We’ve got a real treat for you today! But first, (in hushed tones) can you promise to keep a secret? Okay, please don’t tell our interviewee that I’m a cartoon character or that he’s an inanimate object. Between you and me, apparently, he’s very touchy about the topic.

Introductions

Abby is on the job 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.Abby: Today, we are honored to be in the presence of Hawkeye a rising star in the world of white canes. Hawkeye, in light of your busy schedule it’s so lovely of you to join us. The first and most important question is this, what is your secret to keeping so trim and fit?

Hawkeye: Lots and lots of travelling!

Abby: Nice! I understand you travel quite extensively what’s it like being responsible for leading your vision impaired friend Cassie?

Hawkeye: It is an absolute honour to lead Cassie through her day. We get along so well now, in the beginning, it was tough. She was determined to prove that she didn’t need me despite the issues it was causing her. I’ve watched and helped her go from a struggling cane user to a confident cane user. It brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it.

Sweeping From Side To Side

Abby: I notice that you are a rolling ball white cane which means you use the constant contact cane technique. Can you explain how you function as a guide? 

Hawkeye: I guess you could say I get up close and personal with the ground. As a rolling ball white cane, I’m constantly in contact with the ground. This gives Cassie information as to what the ground surface is doing. She can feel whether the ground is starting to slope, or the ground surface has changed so she can adjust accordingly.

Abby: There’s been some controversy within the blind community on customized white canes. What are your views on different colored or decorated canes?

Hawkeye: It’s certainly a tricky one. I’ve been known to add some tinsel or some lights on myself at Christmas time. Other times I have added gold stars or other decorations depending on how I am feeling. I am all for personalisation but it can also complicate matters. When I am decorated it does make it harder at night time as my reflective tape can be covered up. So people/cars might not see me as well as what they would if I wasn’t decorated. It may also confuse the general public as well when colours are introduced as it is no longer a standard looking cane that they may recognise.    

Interactions With Humans

Abby: Some people who use white canes feel like they attract unwanted stares from passersby. What are your thoughts on questioning looks from people when you are out and about?

Hawkeye: I don’t understand why they stare, have they never seen a person with a cane before? It is one thing to do a quick stare but unnecessary to do a long obvious stare. How would they like it if someone was doing that to them? I sometimes feel I need a sign on me to say don’t worry I’m just a cane, I don’t bite.    

Abby: Since you take Cassie with you just about everywhere you go, how do people treat her when she is with you?

Hawkeye: Ahhh this is always an interesting one. We meet some amazing people along the way and some not so nice people shall we say. There are helpful people out there that will offer assistance to guide us around an obstacle, cross a busy road, find an entrance to a building or locate a building/street. You then get some mean people that will say hurtful things as we walk past. Other people find it to be a joke and will lie across in front of our path or wave their hands/objects right in front of Cassie’s face to try and get a reaction.

Abby: I suppose we will always encounter not so nice people. However, I have to believe amazing people greatly outnumber the unamazing folks.

Final Thoughts

Abby: As an ambassador for people around the world who use white canes, do you have any other words of wisdom?

Hawkeye: Embrace the cane! We are here to help you live an independent life.

Abby: There you have it folks straight from white cane guru himself. Hawkeye and his fellow white canes give one of the most precious gifts a person can receive—the gift of independence. Thank you again, Hawkeye for stopping by and helping us understand the importance of your role to people like Cassie and me.

White Cane Guru Featured Image Description:

Hawkeye is seen in the middle of a path lined with grass and trees on both sides. In this picture, our white cane guru looks like he is ready to take on the next challenge almost like a superhero.

You can catch up with Hawkeye on Instagram at @hawkeyestravels.

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Vulnerability, Sight Loss & The White Cane

Vulnerability, Sight Loss & The White Cane featured image description is in the body of the post.

Vulnerability, Sight Loss & The White Cane

“What 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.”

The first time I picked up a white cane was when my Orientation & Mobility (O&M) Specialist introduced me to one for my training. Perhaps it was the novelty of a new gadget is what prompted me to follow through but secretly I was bitter.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, in the privacy of my home it was okay to learn proper white cane techniques. Practicing in public was a different story.

  • What would people think?
  • Are they looking at me?
  • What if I run into something or someone?
  • Are they laughing at me?
  • Do I look foolish?
  • Are they talking about me?
  • Why? Why do I have to do this?

On and on these and many more questions ran through my head. I felt scared, exposed, and vulnerable. I hated vulnerability.

After my O&M training was complete I was free to use my cane independently. So what did I do? Simple, I stashed it away and continued living pretending.

With the exception of family, co-workers, and friends, no one knew I couldn’t see. The problem was I seldom went anywhere alone because while I didn’t look ‘blind’ I was.

So I continued my charade until the day I wanted to take a short stroll. I’ll never forget; I was at work it was the middle of the afternoon and I needed a little snack. I could have asked any number of people to go with me but I wanted to do this on my own. Afterall it was no biggie, and I was familiar with the route to the store which wasn’t far from my office.

So Clever & So Foolish

On the elevator ride down to the lobby of my office building I had second thoughts but squashed them. As I pushed through the revolving glass doors out onto the plaza I thought “maybe I should turn around.”

Alone with nothing but my thoughts for company, I walked to the store. As I walked by people I didn’t know whether they noticed me and it didn’t matter. For at this moment I appeared just as sighted as anyone else. That is if you ignored my superheroine move when stepping off curbs.

When you lack depth perception it can be tricky navigating uneven terrain. Your footing is unsure so curbs, stairs, cobblestones, etc. can make walking a little dicey. So what I would do is put out my right hand as if an invisible energy force would keep me from falling.

Once I reached the safety of the store I was so relieved because I’d done it by myself. After I bought my snacks and left the store it was just a couple of short blocks back to the office.

I did my little ‘step off the curb superheroine move’ then I heard it. A blaring car horn and someone shouting at me! How could I have missed it? The car nearly hit me and I didn’t see it coming. Shaky and on verge of tears I don’t know how I gathered myself but I made it back to the office.

Strength In A Simple Choice 

Acceptance of a major life-altering event like illness or disability can be extremely difficult. And even once the choice for acceptance is made it can still be a day-to-day struggle. However, I believe strength and freedom are found in acceptance.

I realized the day I was almost mowed down by that vehicle I had a choice. I could continue living in denial. Or I could pick up my white cane, embrace my sight loss and work to help others by sharing my story.

Today I not only use my white cane but I proudly wear my Abby gear! Below I describe today’s featured photo.

Vulnerability, Sight Loss & The White Cane Featured Image Description: 

A mirror selfie of my black “Relax It’s Only A Cane!” tee. I’m wearing new hair, a pixie cut wig, blond in the front, dark brown in the back. Wished I could have taken a full body photo but my phone doesn’t take pictures on voice command.

The white Abby icon is above the slogan walking with her white cane in one hand, handbag in the other. She is wearing heels and a stylish dress made of panels resembling overlapping banana leaves. The dress panels gently curve from her nipped in waist to just above the knee. Her signature hairstyle is best described as explosive.

 

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Styling A Customized White Cane

Styling gold cane and mustard shoe

Styling A Customized White Cane

Happiness Is…

When your cane and shoes match!

Image 1
Image 1

It really was a happy coincidence since I recently had one of those ‘what in the heck am I gonna wear today?’ days. In the featured photo, we see my shoe-clad foot and matching gold cane (description is below).

When I ordered my new customized ‘white canes’ I volleyed back and forth unsure of the colors I wanted. However, as I got ready for a meeting I knew the gold cane would work with my outfit choice. The problem was I hated my outfit. I walked around the house in said outfit until just before my paratransit arrived—then I did the unthinkable. I tore off my clothes, snatched a dress off the hanger, then pulled out these cute little flats I’d forgotten about.

My ride came to collect me and when he dropped me at my destination he commented on how nice my shoes looked with my cane. I’m like, “oh, why thank you!” Since I have a style reputation to uphold, I wasn’t about to tell him I didn’t know they matched. But secretly I was so delighted.

Color Coordinated Outfit Contrasting Cane

The other day I was in yet another ‘what cane should I use quandary?’ I was so tempted to use the black one because it is my favorite but reasoned that I needed contrast. Since my outfit was mainly black (with blush—muted pink—accents) I felt the gold cane would be a better choice.

In image 1, I’m sitting on a bench at the mall wearing a black tee, very comfy lightweight black pants, blush colored light knit open sweater and blush fringed flat slides. My gold cane is in my right hand. For jewelry, I’m wearing a long silver toned fringed necklace and a sparkly bracelet which I’ll talk about in a separate post.

Since I’ve always enjoyed expressing my personal style I decided to extend this logic to my cane as well. I wrote an article, Cane EnAbled—Puttin’ On The Glitz, a while back that talks a little more extensively on this topic.

Aside from flexibility in customization, I also like the folding Ambutech Slim Line canes because they are so compact. They are very light and portable although they are not as sturdy as a standard mobility cane. In view of this, I like the idea of having several back-ups just in case one should bend or break. 

What are your thoughts on customizable mobility devices?

Image 2
Image 2

Styling A Customized White Cane Featured Image Description:

The photo shows me styling my gold cane and mustard faux suede pointy slingback flat on the asphalt outside of my home. These colors coordinated nicely with my gray sleeveless A-line dress. ‏ ‏

Image 2:

A photo of my two new (black and gold) Ambutech Slim Line canes next to my older mobility cane. All three canes have five sections. The older cane has a green grip, 3 white segments, and 1 gold segment near the tip.

 

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Hawkeye | Blind Beauty Issue 40

Blind Beauty Issue 40 image description is in the body of the post

Hawkeye | Blind Beauty Issue 40

“Not only do I lead the way for Cassie to have a fun, confident, and independent life, I’m showing others in a light-hearted manner anything is possible despite the challenges.” ~Hawkeye

Hawkeye 1 descriptions for this and all the other photos are in the body of the post
Hawkeye 1

Typically on Blind Beauty, we feature photos and words of wisdom from beautiful blind & visually impaired women. Today’s Blind Beauty Issue 40 is a little special as we present, a rising star, Hawkeye, of Hawkeye’s Travels.

Many people think inanimate objects have no thoughts, feelings, or opinions. Between me, you, and the internet, for the love of all things sacred, please, please do not tell Hawkeye. This is one personable, well-traveled white cane.

Not only does Hawkeye help Cassie navigate the world, he does so with a humorous flair. When you visit Hawkeye’s Instagram account you’ll notice the majority of the pictures have a blurry background. These images attempt to simulate what it is like to not see clearly.

Hawkeye is a white mobility cane with a rolling ball tip. What makes Hawkeye stand out from other rolling balls are the eyeballs on the ball.  When Hawkeye is doing a photo shoot, the ball is in an upright position to show us his facial expression.

We hope you enjoy this small sampling of Hawkeye’s travels.

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Hawkeye’s Photo Descriptions:

  1. Found my name on a sign, it was only a matter of time. The word “Hawkeye” is in white letters on a large hanging sign in the background of this photo.
  2. Getting down and dirty in the rainforest. Forest debris covers Hawkeye’s head.
  3. That awkward moment when you are out and about and a shark tries to eat you… A large poster of Jaws appears to ready to chomp down on Hawkeye’s head. 
  4. Help! I’m being attacked by leaves!! It’s that time of the year again when Cassie manages to walk in all of the piles of leaves, definitely must be autumn. Autumn colored leaves surround Hawkeye.
  5. When you want to have your picture taken at a magic show and someone gives you bunny ears… Two fingers are behind Hawkeye’s head. In the background is a magic show stage setup.
  6. Getting into the Christmas spirit with some tinsel and lights. Our snazzy looking Hawkeye is wearing green tinsel.
  7. Having breakfast with the Roos. In the background are two kangaroos.

Blind Beauty Issue 40 Featured Image Description:

The image is a faux fashion magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. In this selfie, Hawkeye is on the cover with sand on his head. He doesn’t mind getting a bit sandy to get to where he needs to go. In the background, we see a beach, with aqua colored water between two mountains against a blue sky. Blocks of text superimposed on Hawkeye’s photo are: “Bold | He Keeps Pressing Onward,” “Blind | He Has Deeper Insight,” “Beautiful | He Sees To The Heart Of Others”

You can follow Hawkeye on Instagram at @hawkeyestravels.