My name is John Higgs and I am registered blind.
I have Macular Degenerative Disorder and Cones and Rods Dystrophy. I first experienced sight loss when I was 15.
Prior to undertaking cane training, I was far less confident and 10 nervous, especially with public transport. I decided to undertake cane training to give me more independence, better mobility and different choices. Diana Evans, a Rehabilitation Officer for the visually impaired at Sight Cymru, contacted me and asked if I would be interested.
I started the training in October 2019 and it took place all around the local area. With Diana and Lexie her support worker, I visited Cwmbran, Pontypool, various parks and took different bus routes. The cane training was for approximately 8 weeks. It involved training on how to use the cane, the technique, learning about different surfaces to learn where I was, how to use the cane going up and down steps, and using it on escalators. I also learnt how to use road crossings, how to get on and off buses and how to identify obstacles in front of me.
The training has given me more independence, confidence and opened the world up for me. If there was an occasion where my dog was injured or unwell, the cane training has meant that I am no longer limited to just the things I can do or the places I can visit when she is with me. For instance, I had not been on an escalator for many years and was scared at first of just using my cane to go up and down but now it is so easy! Also, I hadn’t used public transport for over 2 years but now I use it all the time. This has meant that I can now go out on my own and do my own shopping and this, in turn, has led to me getting volunteer work with Sight Cymru, which I love!
For my partner, I no longer have to rely on her for lifts if I just want to pop out somewhere, I am totally independent. If I am out at the park with my children and Roxy (the dog), she can run free, as I now have my cane to guide me.
In addition to the cane training, Sight Cymru has also helped with different equipment. They referred me to Care and Repair, who have 11 put a grab rail in my shower and under cupboard lights for my kitchen, which has made it easier for me to see what is on the worktops. I also now have dimmer switches in my lounge which reduce the glare and rails outside, making it easier for me to go up and down the steps in the garden.
In summary, cane training has changed the way I live as I no longer need to rely solely on Roxy. It has given me confidence and being able to use public transport in the way I do now has been a huge plus. I am able to get out and about more, as I now have the confidence to do things on my own.
I would wholeheartedly recommend cane training, for anyone who is struggling with their independence and confidence.