The importance of mobility aids for Border residents with sight impairments was highlighted at Vision Australia's annual White Cane Day in Albury.
For most vision-impaired people, a cane is the first step in adjusting to life without sight.
A small group of Vision Australia clients with blindness or low vision came together yesterday for a walk around Albury to raise awareness for white canes and guide dogs and the independence they provide.
Regional client services manager for the Murrumbidgee-Hume region Katrina Daniher said training must be completed before a person can use a white cane.
"We need to identify the right height and right type of ball tip. Each cane is individual to suit each person," she said.
"People have training on specific routes they use and what to look out for, particularly for their environment.
"There's lot of different types of canes available to people and it allows them to maneuver through environments.
"What they can't see, it gives them tactile feedback on what things are in front of them so they can safely negotiate them. It helps identify the changes in flooring, depth of gutters and contrast.
"Training is done with a cane first before dogs, so they can always revert back to the cane."
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Helen Benham said her white cane had kept her safe.
"It's helped me in areas I'm not familiar with," she said.
"When I walk from my place at the end of David Street, I know the route, but if I have to go anywhere different I depend on it to see any bumps, ridges or little holes.
"Where I feel safe and secure is where I mostly walk, but if I have to go somewhere else I really need it."
Maree Kenny has used a white cane for more than 20 years, but there's still challenges with particular surfaces.
"Up at the TAFE is challenging because it dips down and is all the same colour," Ms Kenny said.
"Walking on grass is like the ocean waves, you think you're going to fall over.
"When the ground is not even it pushes back into your stomach."
Rowena Ginns has deteriorating sight and poor depth perception and said several friends had suffered injuries on grassed areas.
"Sometimes gutters slope down and to step across those, they come to a joining point which is not a good spot," Mrs Ginns said.
"It helps you to work out where you are and how to safely get across it.
"I generally try to turn at right angles."
The group walked for an hour for White Cane Day, which is celebrated internationally on October 15, and finished with morning tea.
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