Today, i’m going to tell you the story of how I got my white cane.
In November of 2012, after at least five years of putting it off, I visited my local Mobility Centre to enquire about mobility training. Once I walked into the Bradford Mobility Centre, I asked the lady on reception if I could get some information about mobility training. After about ten minutes, she fetched one of their cane trainers and they took me into another room to have a chat.
A trainer and a woman who was using a Guide Dog came into the room. I think the woman with the Guide Dog was their supervisor, but I can’t really remember. They asked me what did I want to know? I asked them, what process do I have to go through to get started? and how long does it take to finish the training? They told me that I had to go through an assessment first, then it takes about six to eight weeks to finish the training. I said, that sounds fine and that i’d like to start the process as soon as possible, they then said that they would ring me in a few weeks to set everything up.
About two weeks passed and I received a very nice phone call. It was a guy called Asssad. He was calling to arrange an appointment so he could come and see me, he also said he was my cane trainer, and he came the following Wednesday, he also asked me in the phone call, how tall are you?, and I told him about five foot six inches. It was so he could bring a cane for me to use.
Wednesday rolled around and I welcomed him into the house. He also brought a woman called Anna with him. It turns out, he was visually impaired too and Anna was his assistant, who helped him with the driving side of his job. They sat down and started to explain about the cane. There was one problem however, it turns out I was taller than I thought. So I couldn’t use the cane they had brought. They said they were going to come back tomorrow with the right size. It has to be the right size for you, or you can’t use it correctly. Unfazed, he still let me try it out, he also showed me how to put it away correctly.
They came back the next day with the right sized cane, and then my first session began.
The first thing I learnt, was how to put it up and down. To put it up, you remove the strap. Then you grab the handle, and then you simply shake. It unravels and clicks together all by itself, and you’re now ready to use it. To put it away, you feel for the three or four joints. Then you pull underneath each joint to separate the cane. Then you fold the cane up. Then you just thread the strap through the exposed joints, and you’ve put it away.
The second thing I learnt. Was how to hold the cane. You hold it by placing the hand you write with on the handle. You then place your pointing finger on the flat side of the handle. It must be straight, and in line with the flat side of the cane. Then on the circular side, you put your thumb straight. You must also flick the tip of your thumb up to the sky a little.
The third thing I learnt. Was how to generally use the cane. Once i figured out how to hold it. I held the handle in my right hand, the cane then goes across your body, so the ball of the cane is in front of your left foot. Next you swipe the cane left to right, the aim is for it to come into contact with any obstacles. You keep swiping as you move. When you are crossing the road, you have to come a little inside the road, so you’re no where near the traffic. Also whilst waiting to cross, you put the cane in the position I talked about above, that’s so you’re ready to swipe it when you finally cross. When you do cross, you swipe your Cane as usual.
Now going up and down stairs is a whole other story. To go up stairs. You wrap your fist around the handle, so your thumb is sticking out, as if you were giving a thumbs up , with the cane in the middle. You then put the stick part up against the step, it then acts as a guideline to show you where to step up. You then continue doing this until you reach the top of the stairs. To come back down. You hold the cane in the same way, as if you are walking the streets but instead of swiping left to right, you keep your cane rolling in a straight line. When it rolls off of one step, and into the crease of the one below, you use that as a guideline to step down.
Now that i’ve basically given you a crash course on how to use a cane, i’ll get back to what happened on my first training session.
He explained all of what I have just said above, and then we left the house. Across the road from my house, there is a field, so he showed me how to cross the road with my cane. He then told me that we needed to go somewhere with plenty of steps. I had the perfect place in mind. Near my house there is an old Liberal Club, it must be at least a hundred years old and it has quite a few stone steps. We set off on the route to the club, and we had to go past the field to get to it, which was the perfect time to try out the obstacles thing. On the path near the field, there is a lamp post that I always nearly walk in to. It hit the post just as I was about to walk into it, which means it works and that I can use it to notice obstacles in my way. Once we went past the field, we crossed using the zebra crossing, no problems there. Then we finally made it to the Liberal Club, he then showed me how to go up and down the stairs, just like how I explained above. I got confused a few times, but I finally nailed it.
Next he said we needed to go on a route I don’t usually take. I decided to go to the Post Office, it’s way up at the top of the high street, and I don’t usually go up that way unless I need to. We started going to the Post Office, it’s basically straight up the road from the Liberal Club. There’s a few crossings but they’re just side street crossings. We were opposite the Post Office but I had to cross another zebra crossing before we were outside the Post Office. I did get a little confused on that one, mainly because I don’t go up that way that often, but I finally nailed it. If you go down the side of the Post Office, there’s a road that leads straight on to my road, so we followed the road round and headed home.
We got to my door and he said that I had done fantastic, and I should be really proud of myself, he also said he would give me a call next week to arrange another session.
On the evening of my first Training Session, I had to nip to the supermarket. I didn’t know if I should take my Cane with me for a little practice being out and about. I decided in the end to take it with me, it turns out, it came in really useful. By the time I had finished shopping, it was five o’clock in the evening, and it was winter, so it was pitch black. I also had to find a flight of stairs to go up a pathway to get to the bus stop. I navigated them very well, no bumps, falls or trips, which was fantastic.
He rang again on the following Monday, and asked if he could come on the Wednesday. I told him, Yes of course.
Wednesday came and he arrived. He said that we should do the route that we did last time. I said ok, and we went off on the same route as before, but instead of going from the crossing to the Liberal Club, we cut that part out and just did the Post Office route. As we crossed the first zebra crossing near the field. He said I was using it wrong when crossing. You see, I didn’t know you had to swipe as you crossed, I thought you just had to roll it straight and get across as fast as possible, but he said no, you have to still swipe. We continued the route, crossing opposite the Post Office and round back to my door. As we were walking back to my house, he told me he could tell I had been practising. I told him that I took it shopping with me the night you came, and then again when I went into town. He acted a little surprised and said that was fantastic. He asked if I had any problems? and I said no and that it was actually quite easy. He then said I wasn’t expecting you to start using it that fast, but it’s great you have.
We made it back to my house, and he told me he thought I was doing well with it. He also told me that he could come when it was dark next time, if I wanted him to. That way I could get a bit of experience using it in the dark. I told him that would be great. Before he left, he said he’d give me a ring next week to confirm a time.
He rang me on the Monday and like before, asked if Wednesday would be OK? Which was fine with me.
As before, Wednesday came but there was a difference. Instead of coming at about 12:30pm, he arrived at 5:30pm. This was so I could gain a little experience at using my Cane during the dark. We started and took the same route as before, round the field, cross the zebra, turn left and up to the Post Office. When we got to the zebra opposite the Post Office, I got a little confused and nearly tried crossing before the zebras lowered pathway. He reminded me that I could use the path as a guide, we crossed the zebra and went down the side path back towards my house. As we approached my house, he said I think you’re more or less done, you picked it up very fast, and I don’t think I need to come again, unless you think I do?, I said no, I don’t think so. Then he left for the final time, as he left he said, if you have any problems you can always call me. I was now finished with my training. I had thought it would take longer, but apparently not.
That everyone, is the story of how I was trained to use my cane. If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them, just leave me a comment down below.