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From Passing To Passion—Finding Strength In The White Cane

From Passing To Passion—Finding Strength In The White Cane

“The 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 allows us to take back our lives, regardless of where we fall on the sight loss spectrum.”

Longing For Invisibility

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

Each step I took was a step closer to breaking my neck. So what was my solution as my sight kept deteriorating? I faked it of course.

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 each day. It was important to me for people saw what I wanted them to see—a composed person. Yet after work, and sometimes throughout the day while hiding in a restroom stall, I was a blubbering mess. My life was unraveling.

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. To determine my needs, I had to answer questions but I never thought the white cane would enter the discussion. For Pete’s sake, I mean I couldn’t see but I wasn’t blind. I had a lot to learn.

The Turning Point

“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. Once my lessons were over the cane went to my closet where it stayed for months.

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 from living life to the best of my ability.

If you’re facing a similar white cane struggle, it’s okay. You got this! ~Steph

From Passing To Passion Featured Image Description:

A collage of three poses of me standing with my white cane in front of my counter. I went monochrome in shades of gray: tank, capris, sneakers, and hoodies tied around my waist. My collapsible white cane folds into five sections. The section closest to the marshmallow tip is yellow, 3 sections above it are white and the handle is green.

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Cane EnAbled – Puttin’ on the Glitz

Cane EnAbled – Puttin’ on the Glitz

The white mobility cane—a badge of strength and boldness. It enables us to do most anything. What would we do without it?

Bold Blind Beauty
Standard White Cane W/Rolling Ball Tip
Standard White Cane W/Rolling Ball Tip

Indicating a person is blind or visually impaired, the long thin white cane is more than just a tool for its users. It’s a way to take back our lives, regardless of where we fall on the sight loss spectrum. But a white cane can also mean different things to different people.

For the blind and visually impaired (B&VI), a cane can be an incredibly useful tool. It grants us a significant amount of freedom and mobility depending upon our ability and level of sight loss. But it also can have much stigma as we deal with acceptance of blindness, particularly by someone who is recently blinded.

When I was given my first cane, I admit I was devastated. I realized that I had transformed from being a woman who had sight to a woman who became blind. That was tough. Suddenly, I was viewed by society as a person with a disability, not a whole person. But now I love my cane—and beyond just its functionality.

My cane represents more than just my blindness. It has become a part of me, a part that is loved and accepted by anyone who truly loves and accepts me. Even my sighted friends love it, as they see my ability to accept and adjust to my situation. Without judgment or marginalization, they appreciate how I can function just like anyone else.

Blinging Out The White Cane

Sample rhinestone adorned strap purchased from a craft store.
Sample Rhinestone Adorned Strap

But wait, there’s more! I’ve always loved fashion and style, so I asked, why can’t I use my cane beyond its role as a mobility device? Why can’t it help express my inner sense of being, much like my hair, makeup, clothes, shoes, and jewelry? Why not personalize it to make a fashion statement as to who I am as a woman?

As a mobility tool, a cane, of course, needs to be reflective and visible, particularly to drivers. But there’s a lot you can do to “bling out” a cane, without jeopardizing its functionality and safety features. For example, there are canes with handles and tips in a variety of colors such as neon blue, green, pink and orange.

Rhinestone covered handle
Rhinestone covered handle

There also are canes where the shaft is a matching color instead of white and red. But you need to go with an overall color and style you are comfortable and feel safe with. Our recommendation would be to bedazzle portions of the cane such as the handgrip, the section just below the grip, and the strap—an easy solution to creating a personalized fashion statement.

To express my inner self, I decided to decorate mine. Here are some tips and ideas for those who are still new to having a cane, since it really helps with the self-confidence—at least for me.

Decorating Tips

  • Don’t add too many decorations (to prevent them from being a distraction)
  • Use materials that are reflective and will adhere to the cane
  • Use removable décor in case they become a hindrance
  • Decorate for holidays, events, parties, and just for fun!

Decorating Ideas

Here are a few ideas to add some swag to your staff of independence:

  • Braille cane charms
  • Bling hung on the strap
  • Colorful reflective duct tape
  • Rhinestone ribbon 
  • Holiday décor – ribbons & banners for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s, Easter, St. Patrick’s, July 4th
  • Sports, e.g. Super Bowl Sunday, World Series, Olympics
  • Music – instruments & clef signs

Now with a little bling and glitz, my cane tells a story about me—a whole person beyond just my blindness. And since we’ll be together for a long time, I plan on having lots more fun with my cane. So, bling out your cane and enable your inner fashion sensibilities—and be a bold, blind and beautiful woman!

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Embracing Independence With The White Cane

Embracing Independence featured image description is in the body of the post.

Embracing Independence With The White Cane

“Failure to understand why I use a white cane on your part does not constitute an explanation on my part.”

~Stephanae McCoy

Originally published on April 28, 2017 and lightly updated.

1. Gold Ambutech Slim Line cane image description is in the body of the post.
1. Gold Ambutech Slim Line Cane

If you fear using a white cane because of what other people think, fear no more. Do this for you and no one else! Accepting your white cane offers you the irrefutable gift of independence.

While the stigma of the white cane still persists, there are increasing numbers of people opening up about blindness/sight loss. Having conversations about the topic of blindness helps to not only increase awareness but also empowers those affected by it.

Managing Bold Blind Beauty has enabled me to connect with so many others who are thriving with their blindness/sight loss. Sharing stories of our featured guests continues to stoke the flames of my passion for advocacy. Breaking down barriers, focusing on abilities, and pushing for inclusion by connecting sighted and non-sighted people is key.

If you’ve been following me for some time now you know that blindness is unique for each individual. There is no one way to ‘look’ blind and thankfully technology is helping to open doors previously inaccessible to us.

2. Posing with my black Slim Line Ambutech Cane image description is in the body of the post.
2. Posing with my black Slim Line Ambutech Cane

I’m now 58 years old, still don’t ‘look’ like I’m blind and there is no need to prove this to anyone. Today, I boldly use my white or colored cane depending on my mood. There was a time when foolish pride and worrying about what other’s thought kept me from doing what’s best for me —no more. Nowadays when I fall it’s no longer a joke, it actually hurts. So to keep from stumbling, I use my white cane and I’m ALL IN!

There is no shame in having a disability or using a white cane or other mobility device. So SHINE ON!! Get out there and LIVE life💖 You got this!

#NoFear #NoShame #NoExplanation #YouGotThis

Embracing Independence With The White Cane

A tri-collage of me posing with my white cane in front of my counter. I’m wearing a black cold shoulder top, blue jeans and light colored mules.

Additional Images:

  1. A photo of my Ambutech Slim Line gold cane and one of my mustard pointy slingback flats.
  2. I’m posing outside with my black Slim Line #WhiteCane wearing ivory leggings, tan tank under a tan dolman sleeve sweater, and sneakers. My white backpack is sitting next to me on a wall.
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Rockin’ Disability In Spite Of

“Our culture of reality TV and aggressiveness leads to some strange personal interactions. When you wield a white cane, you never know what you’re gonna get.” ~Susan Kennedy, Adventures In Low Vision

Sadly, there’s a lot of truth to Susan’s quote when using a white cane or any other type of mobility tool for that matter. Yet we press onward, in spite of. Never let anyone or anything prevent you from pursuing your best life!

Image: Susan is in the grocery store standing in front of her grocery cart with her white cane in her right hand.