You’ve probably seen them around Kamloops — men and women sporting a white cane.
You probably even know those using the canes are visually impaired and that they’re able to get around independently thanks to that white cane.
But you might not know what it’s like to have that impairment or the challenges faced by those who have lost or are losing their vision.
For White Cane Week in 2019 — which runs from Feb. 4 to Feb. 9 — KTW felt it important to tell readers the stories of the people behind those canes.
These people include Surander Singh, a financial consultant at IG Wealth Management who sits on the board of the Canadian Council Of The Blind.
Singh noted this is the 75th anniversary of White Cane Week, which began with the council.
Kamloops’ White Cane Club marked its 25th anniversary in 2018.
Singh started to lose his sight in 2008.
“I was 42 at the time when I got glaucoma and it came on really quick,” he said. “Once the optic nerve is damaged, there’s no reversing it.”
Fortunately, as a certified financial planner, he was working in an industry in which he could continue his career with the help of technology.
“I remember my original director telling me, he says, ‘You know what, we’ve got a good disability program here. If you happen to go on disability and you’re not able to do your job, there is disability,’” Singh recounted.
“And I said, ‘Well, that’s not happening. I’m not going on disability.’”
Singh explained that IG Wealth Management (previously Investors Group) has been incredibly supportive of his desire to continue to work, as have his customers.
But more than anything else, he said, it was while talking to others with vision problems that helped him overcome the worst of what he faced.
“When I got introduced to some individuals within the Canadian Council of the Blind organization, as well as the CNIB [Canadian Institute for the Blind], I was able to get some help,” Singh said.
“And, unbelievable, when you start to connect with the individuals within the blind community, they understand you and you get to understand them, and it allows you to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“Pardon the pun,” he added.
“Talking to people with vision problems helped me to be able to understand how to deal with the loss of sight.”
There are a few events planned for White Cane Week.
Presentations will be made at local schools, with information provided about the use and types of white canes, braille, low-vision devices and games — such as goalball — specifically designed for the blind.
The White Cane Luncheon will be held on Wednesday at Desert Gardens Community Centre downtown.
There will be door prizes donated by local businesses and Les Nolin of the CNIB will be the guest speaker.
His presentation will deal with vision loss rehabilitation, the CNIB Foundation and the guide dog and Phone-it-Forward programs.
Tickets are $14 and available by calling Linda Hall at 250-376-4900.