[nabs-l] A cane for the blind to improve social interactions

Bridgit Pollpeter bpollpeter at hotmail.com
Tue Nov 29 22:58:06 UTC 2011

In and of itself, this cane isn't necessarily bad, and a lot worse
products have been on the market supposedly to make the lives of blind
individuals "better."

My problem is that one, it appears that this woman is sighted, and while
I have absolutely no problem with sighted people assisting in the
innovation of products for us, I think it best they work with us along
the way. The article takes the slant that while a car for the blind is
great and all, this cane is better. Translation: Classic example of the
sighted world thinking they know best. God forbid we work towards goals
that actually could, and would, improve our lives; the sighted still
know better because they have secret information we, the blind, don't
have so therefore they must step in and provide that information.

Now, don't argue the car issue with me because I know we all have
varying opinions on it; I am strictly speaking to what is in this
article. I have my own pros and cons about the car, but it is what is
addressed in this article in terms of what is best for the blind. Smile.

Look, I was sighted, so yes, there are things I miss such as recognizing
people from across a room, but I don't feel I'm missing out on social
interactions, or that my life experience is so devoid of certain things
now. Just because I miss something doesn't mean I feel empty or

It also bothers me when anyone, blind or sighted, suggest a GPS will
help us avoid running objects. If using a white cane properly, we don't
run into anything. When our cane hits something, it is suppose to
because it's protecting our body from hitting and running into the
object. Yes, we have those moments when we graze things, or are at just
the right angle that we goof up, and of course we all have tapped a
person, or slid a cane between a persons legs, but sighted people will
bump others, or bags and totes will slam into people. It's not such a
problem that we need a device to tell us every little move. And
personally, I don't count stairs or how many feet to something, so it's
funny to me that a part of this canes "job" is to inform when a person
we know is nearby, then give us exact steps to them, then we count the
steps until we find the person. Sorry, but that's ridiculous.

Now, it would be helpful to avoid hanging objects or things high enough
that it's out of a canes reach, but low enough for us to run into with
our upper body. We all have done it, and it's the one thing a white cane
can't assist us with.

My problem is not so much the cane itself, but the reasoning behind it
that bothers me. As I said before, while not the worse item to be
developed for the blind, it seems to imply that our ability to interact
socially is not great, and that we are missing out on this huge
experience in life. It's the common idea that we are severely lacking in
so many areas that we require special devices and technology so we can
"fit in." Social interaction can be difficult for anyone. Sighted people
can lack this just as much as blind people can be the life of a party.
There's no tip in the scales making one group more socially aware than
another. Trust me; I've been sighted and blind so I know about both

I don't think there's anything wrong with a person who might use such a
cane. It does have some unique features that would be helpful like how
it can warn about head-level objects. It's just the reasoning behind
it's development that bothers me. And how, according to this article, it
makes it seem as though we don't know what is best for us. I'm tired of
people who have never been blind thinking they know what is best, and
what my needs are. I'm not lacking in the social department, and though
it's a nice luxury to be able to see and approach friends from across a
room, we're not missing a chunk of the human experience because we lack
this ability. If you lack social interactions, perhaps you need to look
at yourself and wonder why. Do you initiate conversation? Do you join
gatherings or participate in activities? Do you show up to events and
sit by a wall all night? We may not be able to "see" people across a
room, but we can approach people, engage in conversations and make
friends just like anyone else. We don't need a special device to help

And by the way, we're becoming way to reliant on technology. Blind and
sighted alike, but especially blind people. I know so many of us who
refuse to learn and/or use alternative skills because we now have
technology to do it for us. If you have poor travel skills and opt to
rely on an accessible GPS (which is god-awful expensive) what happens if
the GPS breaks, or screws up, or is stolen, or you forget it? Lacking
solid travel skills, how do you get around? Hmmm... Shows you that
lacking social skills, or at least allegedly, is the worse of our

Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter
Read my blog at:
"History is not what happened; history is what was written down."
The Expected One- Kathleen McGowan

Message: 2
Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2011 13:16:59 -0700
From: Arielle Silverman <arielle71 at gmail.com>
To: nabs-l at nfbnet.org
Subject: [nabs-l] Fwd: [LCA] a cane for the blind improves social
<CALAYQJAAokvryu+f0S+6tbsGtvbXvxema8Eh223VA5M4g_gFRg at mail.gmail.com>
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Curious what y'all think of this. Would anyone actually use it? Arielle

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