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Why I Struggle to Accept My Cane as a Legally Blind Person

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There’s a saying to never judge a book by its cover. But upon hearing the term “legally blind” associated with me, many people automatically assume I come packaged with a white cane and sunglasses.

Except in most cases, I don’t. But I do have one on deck.

When I was in sixth grade, my vision therapy teacher started taking me out of school every week to partake in mobility lessons and community inclusion. Amongst the many tools and tricks used for me to interact with society independently, the white cane was introduced. The goal of the cane was to be used as an identifier, to show people you are in need of assistance should something come up.

From the first day I had it until now, I feel weird as hell using it.

Although I am legally blind, my vision is just enough to distinguish obstacles like window panes and stairs, which a cane helps its holder navigate around. So I never really saw the point in using it — although, to be fair, I have since cracked it out a few times when I moved down here as I learned the traffic patterns and crosswalks I would need to be accustomed to in my neighborhood. And I have also used it on days where my migraines would make me see the world with one eye open. Nevertheless, I still felt odd bringing it out. Not because of the attention I would receive while using it, but something else that is hard to put into words.

I want so desperately to try to use my cane more, as it will help me come to terms with myself and my own awareness of my body and disability, but at times, I feel there is a stigma involved. It’s almost like that “fat lady on a scooter” stigma when you see one in a WalMart. Why do you need a scooter when you can walk? Why do I need my cane when I can (sort of) see around me?

I feel almost like an imposter, using something intended for someone far “worse off” than me. As if whatever ability to see I have isn’t enough to warrant its use. I don’t want to be that person on a bus with a cane as I am on my phone checking Facebook. It looks weird… and it becomes hard to talk to strangers who may want to accuse me of some wrongdoing. I hate dealing with altercation, especially if it’s in public. I just want to be me, no questions asked.

Once in a while, I take my trusty cane out for a spin. But for the most part, she rests in my closet, waiting for the next new adventure into the great unknown.

As to when that will be, the world may never know.

This post originally appeared on Legally Blind Bagged.

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Originally published: February 16, 2017
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