I recently attended a mobility training course to learn how to get around more independently as a visually impaired person. It required that I learned how to use a mobility cane – an extra-long cane with a rotating golf ball at the tip (so you get extra notice when you are about to fall into a cover-stolen manhole) as opposed to a symbol cane, a shorter stick which merely reminds others that you are a person who has full permission to act slightly strangely at times (like using a magnifier to see a till slip or walking past a friend without greeting them).
Shortly after this, a close friend of mine found an iPad that had been dropped in the street. In her good citizen quest to find the owner she had to make a trip to the iStore in Canal walk. That day I was feeling down about a health issue, and was pondering on how precious life is. So when the opportunity arose I grabbed the chance to get out, enjoy time with a friend, changed my plans and offered to go along for the drive.
I took along my new cane and was excited to try out my fresh skills in an unfamiliar environment. I felt really free just walking from the car into the building without putting strain on my always confusing vision. We found the relevant shop and, bolstered by my new found confidence, I asked her if she was up to a bit of fun. She giggled and said , “Go for it”, so I held onto her elbow, kept my shades on and she led the way to the counter at the back of the store where two attendants were waiting . I asked, “Is this the iStore? “when the chap said yes, I announced politely, “I would like to buy some eyes”.
There was a serious and awkward silence and then we burst out laughing. The guys then joined in – I think very relieved at not having to make an appropriate response. We eventually got onto our real errand.
I was reminded that life with a disability is not as tragic as a life where you cannot see hope. There is no option to buy ‘iSight’, but there is always an option to choose how ‘iSee’.
P.S.I admire all things Apple and, in my opinion, an iPhone is a brilliantly helpful assistive device for any blind or blindish person… even without using the accessibility functions.
P.P.S. Apologies for any emotional trauma caused to the iStore staff.