New Kind of Tap Dance

Back to the O&M stuff. I need to practice my cane travel but I feel rather foolish using the thing. I feel like a fraud using it since I don’t yet need it.

Imagine me with a white cane scrambling up and down the rocky bank and across the muddy shoals at the ‘beach’, the local swimming hole. That is where I walked with the Beastie Baby today. I am still pretty sure-footed (except when falling over dishwasher doors). I can see people becoming irritable with me for impersonating a blind person. I don’t want that to happen.

So no cane on this trip. Instead I used an ‘invisible cane’ and practiced my cadence.

I have said it before: I am a decent dancer. Therefore, you would think walking and tapping a cane would be child’s play. Nooooooo. I never realized how hard “tap left and step right, tap right and step left, repeat” could be. I am constantly getting out of step! [click here for one YouTube video showing White Cane Technique.]

Practicing with my ‘invisible cane’ I came up with an idea. Now this idea may not work at all. It may be laughed at by O&M specialists. No guarantees. Since I am a lefty, my cane is in my right hand. My thought was: what would happen if I pretended my right forearm were glued to my right thigh? When I step forward with my right, this would propel the cane in an arc to my left. When my right leg is the following leg, the cane stays back to the right.

It worked sort of. The movement is still not automatic, but what do you want from a newbie? I shall keep trying.

Next up: sighted guide. This was about a five-minute lesson. It required me to be someplace my husband never thought I would ever be: a deferential half-step behind him!

The idea is that the sighted guide gets to run into things and fall off cliffs before you do. The National Federation of the Blind has some good articles available as well as some YouTube instructional videos. How did we ever learn anything before YouTube?

Anyway, the idea is to grasp your guide’s triceps, not the biceps. In other words, come in from the back and stay there. Your fingers should be on the inside of his arm and your thumb should be on the outside.

If your sighted guide runs into a wall, you want to be able to push-off the back of his arm and keep yourself from tumbling into said wall. You don’t want to have a hold of his biceps and slip off…right into the wall.

If going through a narrow passage, I really get to play the deferential wife. My husband or other sighted guide puts his hand behind him. That is my cue to slide my grasp down his wrist and move all the way behind him.  When the arm comes out, I get to slide back to the triceps and take my position half a step behind.

Now, if I feel my sighted guide step down, I know I need to step down. If he drops precipitously, he has fallen off a cliff and I need to let go! Then I turn around, get my cane out and tap, tap back the way I came.

Simple. Sighted guide. They should keep you from running into walls and falling off cliffs. Just make sure your grasp is right!

written 8/6/2016

Next: Merrily Down the Stream

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