Paving the path for independence

5 November 2019|Community News| Off Comments off on Paving the path for independence|

THE ‘click click’ sound of the white cane has become a symbol of independence since its development back in the 1920s.

And so to celebrate International White Cane Day this year, VisAbility provided people with low vision and blindness the opportunity to experience the sensations of Mona.

International White Cane Day was held on 15 October with the theme of ‘My Cane My Way’, raising awareness in the community about how people living with sight loss use the assistive tool.

VisAbility and local cane users in Hobart visited Mona to experience the museum in their own way.

“Some of our clients were able to put on gloves and touch some of the exhibitions and actually be included in the things that tourists and Tasmanians come here to experience,” VisAbility Guide Dogs Tasmania orientation and mobility instructor Kim Ryan said.

Ms Ryan said White Cane Day was about helping the wider community understand what the symbol of the white cane meant and what it meant to people living with low vision and blindness.

“It’s about understanding that they can be out and about doing exactly the same things no matter what level of vision they’ve got,” she said.

“It’s access to the community and it’s increasing their independence, so without the white cane and the technology that’s constantly evolving, they’re stuck and confined to their own homes.”

Local white cane user Peter Gordon said he relied on his cane to get out and about.

“The white cane is one of the best tools for vision-impaired people and it probably doesn’t get the recognition or appreciation it should,” he said.

“With my white cane, I can go and do things that most people can do.

“With it, I feel more confident when crossing roads, as well as visiting shopping centres, museums, bars, cafes and airports – it’s useful for all sorts of different situations.”

This year’s campaign comes at a time when individuals with limited vision are reaping the benefits of assistive technology that is continuously evolving.

“We’re seeing more technology built into everyday devices and the rise of specialist apps,” VisAbility chief executive officer Elizabeth Barnes said.

“It all helps to increase an individual’s sense of independence and self-esteem while reducing the feeling of isolation.

“For example, smartphones offer much more than just a phone connection, they can help someone to do banking, shopping, operate household appliances, as well as assist a person to send texts and emails.”

Ms Barnes said these innovative technologies, alongside the primary mobility aid of the white cane, were making day-to-day life for people with low vision or blindness easier.

“Assistive technology for people with disabilities is an expanding growth market because of the global aging population – it’s exciting to think what the future may hold,” she said.

Caption: From left, white cane users Peter Gordon, Rob Whyte, Duncan Meerding and Carol Brown.

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The Glenorchy Gazette is your monthly community newspaper, reaching over 24,000 homes and businesses in the Glenorchy municipality. It is the product of Nicolas Turner, Justine Brazil, Ben Hope, Simon Andrews, Tobias Hinds and guest contributors, with support from advertisers.

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