The Blind Man's Harley: White Canes and Gender Identity in AmericaBy Kudlick, Catherine; Braille Monitor, Vol. 48, No. 5
Publication Date: May 2005
Account by a visually impaired woman of her experiences at a six month residential rehabilitation program at the Colorado Center for the Blind (CCB). The program, which she calls “blind boot camp,” required her to be blindfolded while learning to use a long white cane for orientation and navigation in a heavily trafficked outdoor environment. The advantages of the cane described, a rigid carbon-fiber white NFB (National Federation of the Blind) cane which was the type used at the CCB, include its length, which gives its user more information sooner to enable him or her to walk more quickly, and its sensitive metal tip, which helps the user discern different surface textures. The author details how she had to shed her self-image of poor little blind girl in favor of the adoption of a more masculine-oriented attitude of self-reliance, modeled in part on her blind instructor who used biker jargon to describe the features of the NFB cane favored at the CCB over the folding-style canes preferred by some of her fellow students. Experiences aiding the author’s development of self-reliance described include learning to identify the flow and direction of traffic and to interpret the varying sounds of audible pedestrian signals at intersections, and honing her cane skills to discern changes in pavement texture indicating curbs and crosswalks.
Assistive Products Discussed: NFB TYPE 6 STRAIGHT CARBON FIBER CANE
NFB TYPE 10 STRAIGHT CARBON FIBER CANE
Published by: National Federation of the Blind (Website:http://www.nfb.org)
Link to text: http://www.nfb.org/Images/nfb/Publications/bm/bm05/bm0505/bm050503.htm