Provided with an identification cane to signal to the public she was vision impaired when she was 16, Coral did not request mobility training in how to move around safely, but this was not her only barrier. “Even with the ID cane people used to say to me, ‘put that away and be normal.’ They’d worry about the stigma attached to having a cane, and they didn’t want others to treat me differently,” she said.
It wasn’t until her fifth child left home that Coral sought the support she needed from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT to learn how to use a long cane. “When my children left home and became independent, I thought it was about time I should too.”
“Having a cane gave me back the confidence and independence I lost staying at home,” she said. A mobility specialist from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has spent many hours training with Coral. “My main aim was to visit the Ensemble Theatre, Opera House and cinema, so the instructor taught me the correct techniques to use my cane and how to navigate from my home by using public transport and the route to walk from the station,” Coral said. “We walked there together a number of times before I was confident to do it by myself.”
“The instructor also taught me how to use the Guide Dogs NSW/ACT GPS app on my phone, so I can locate where I am at any time without assistance from other people,” she said.
Each year Guide Dogs NSW/ACT's highly trained specialists work with people of all ages to help them achieve their mobility goals. Programs are tailored to meet the lifestyle needs of each individual, and most training is delivered locally, in the person’s home, community, school or work environment, at no cost.
This is something Coral has experienced first-hand as she now travels independently with her long cane and GPS app on her phone. The 70 year old has some advice for those who are experiencing problems with their sight: “Don’t wait till your sight gets too bad because you’ll lose your confidence. If you wait to get help, you’ll continue feeling insecure when you go out on your own and, like me, this might stop you going out altogether,” she said. “My kids now joke that I go out more than them.”