Tag: Edward Cohen

Why I Finally Started Using a Long White Cane

Long before I decided to begin using a long white cane, I recognized that my eyesight was declining and impacting many aspects of my life.

Among other things, my condition, RP, steals the light-gathering cells in your retina.  Meaning, where others could easily see to navigate, either inside or out, I struggled.   As it worsened, I hesitated going out alone at night.  I hesitated going out with people who didn’t know my sight challenges.  Even on a sunny day, if a shadow wasn’t being cast by steps, I could go flying down them.  I really needed to start using a white cane.  But, like so many in that situation, I held off.

The big wake-up call happened at age 45 when I failed the vision test for my driver’s license.  A follow-up visit to my eye doctor sealed the news.  He pronounced that I now met the terms for being legally blind.   As I sat dejected in the exam chair, he recommended I contact service providers who, among other things, could get me the white cane training I’d need.

For months, I vacillated between thinking of following the doctor’s advice and holding off.  I couldn’t verbalize what kept me from taking his sensible advice.  I knew no blind person to whom I could talk about this.

In my case and maybe for others, my reluctance was really based on fear.  No, I wasn’t afraid of the cane itself, it was fear of what people I knew would now think about me when I appeared with a white cane.  Fear that I’d no longer be seen as the competent guy that I knew I was.  Fear that coworkers or supervisors might start treating me differently and maybe start questioning my work.  Fear that friends would feel sorry for me and want to be overly helpful.  Maybe I was just uncomfortable at the thought of beginning to present as a blind person.

Then there is the thing that guys might not talk about.  If you’re at the age when you’re hoping to go out on dates or find a partner for life, a guy is likely to think his chances are slim if he advertises his disability.

On that point, significant vision-loss wasn’t a factor until after I married.  But before we were engaged, I told her of my retina condition.  I explained that already, I was uncomfortable with night-driving and it would probably get worse.  Her response was simply, “Well okay, then let me start doing all the night driving”.  And that was all there was to it.  I’m a lucky guy.

During a period when I was open to the idea of using a cane, I learned there was a local chapter of a national blind organization in my city and they had an upcoming meeting.  Meeting and talking to both vision-impaired and totally blind members over a period of months, gradually got me over the hump.  I obtained my first folding cane and started learning proper travel techniques.

As I practiced with the cane on walking trails, it was obvious how helpful the cane was.  No more tripping on uneven pavement or stepping into water-filled holes.  Those coming towards me assumed I didn’t see them and gave me wide berth.  Past concerns I’d bump into people, happily vanished.

I worked in a large government complex downtown and had a responsible job.  Even as my vision declined, I was able to successfully travel inside and around the buildings.  I never ended up pulling my folding cane out of my shoulder bag at work.  I did use that cane to get to the bus from home, from the bus to the building and then reverse it all at the end of the day.

I did use a cane when I became involved with new volunteer organizations.  I did use it whenever we traveled by plane or train.  Beside the benefits I’ve already mentioned, a bonus was if I stepped into a confusingly designed or poorly lit public restroom, some helpful guy might be in there and offer some useful directions.  If I accidently bumped into someone, my apology and the sight of my cane always prevented any misunderstanding.

This isn’t a blog on where to go to get assistance.  Dear reader, you could be living anywhere.  But, you might reach out to those in your community who work with seniors or contact your local or state library.  If you have access to the internet, search for the word “blind organization” and the name of your state.  If you have such a thing, consult your phone book.

My relationship with my white caned totally changed when we moved to a new city.  I decided I’d use my cane from then on.  Now everyone who knows me here, knows me as a cane user.  Perhaps it is being older, but I now am proud to walk throughout my community showing that blind people can safely travel independently and are otherwise, no different than anyone else.

I admit that I am not the person who can preach to anyone about boldly stepping forward to start being a cane user as soon as it would help.  I can only say that once I got and learned how to use my white cane, many things I feared did not happen.  And at the same time, challenges I previously faced greatly diminished or ended.

If low vision is making you uncomfortable going around independently, I’d urge you to reach out to any of the many organizations that exist and are anxious to help you.

When Where You Are Is Not Where You Want To Be  

This Blog Post is quite different than my other ones.  This one came to me over time and seemed worth sharing.  I’m trying to put into words a philosophy for dealing with my vision-loss. It’s an attitude I’m trying to live by.   Perhaps it will strike a chord with you. Here’s how this thought came to me.

I have more trouble seeing now than I did about a year ago.  I have a couple of routes that I can walk to get to the store, the coffeeshop and downtown.  One is more shaded by trees than the other, so when it’s hot I take the more shaded route. While the coolness is nice, it is also darker.  A year ago, I could make out the curves in the sidewalk and paths where the shade was deepest.

However, this year I realized that I no longer could see the path in those shaded spots.  It was disheartening to face the reality that my eyesight had declined so much so fast. I stood there soaking in what this meant.  After a bit, with no visual clues, my handy long white cane found and kept me on the path. I slowly get past this and other sections and back on my way.  

Over time, I started to try and see beyond the deeply shaded sections.  If I could make out where the path picked up beyond these sections, I’d aim for them.   Combining confidence that comes from using my long white cane, some eyesight and this method, I’d get through these spots more quickly.  Later, I realized that if I could see someone on the path ahead of me, I’d try to use them as a moving target.

It was on one of those walks that it dawned on me that such a practice could be an allegory for the way one lives their life.  There will be times in our lives when we may feel lost, getting nowhere or unhappy with our current situation.

But if you have a big goal or a series of smaller goals, you have that spot in the path ahead to aim for.  If you don’t have such goals or if they are vague, work on them. Having goals and working towards them can be very helpful.

Image of Edward, owner of EZ2See

I also noticed that If someone was a bit ahead of me on the trail, I could use them to point the way forward. I translate this to mean, find or learn about someone who has walked a path similar to yours.  Especially if they are now in a “place” more like where you’d like to be. Guides, role models and mentors can make all the difference as you travel along your path.
Edward Cohen is the creator of the EZ2See® weekly planner/calendar.

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Saving Face: Spatial Awareness Suggestions

By saving face I don’t mean avoiding embarrassment, but it could mean that too.  I’m really talking about actually avoiding running your head or face into things while moving about your place.  Why in the world would this happen?

If you are someone who moves with ramrod straight posture, you can skip this blog post.  For the rest of us whose posture tends to assume a slight bow, read on.  

Moving in this way puts your head slightly forward of your torso.  In this position, with good eyesight in dark spaces, it’s potentially more likely for your head or face to contact the corners of walls or partially open doors.  

To reduce injury, consider these ideas.

  1. Try to always keep doors fully open or fully closed.  Close cabinet doors before walking away.
  2. Little lights can be helpful.  Put nightlights in selected outlets to offer some “navigation” aids. 
  3. Create your own “early warning system.”  This means that your hands will contact the object before the rest of you.  Use this defensive move when you aren’t positive of the situation, when going around corners or passing through doorways. Here’s how I do it.
    1. With your thumb pointing up, pivot one arm up so your hand is about centered on your body at a comfortable height.  Keep your fingers slightly curved towards you and won’t get jammed if they contact an object before the rest of you does.
    2. For extra protection, position both hands in front of you and lightly press your fingers together or rest one against the other’s palm or forearm.  Whatever seems comfortable to you, just be sure those fingers are several inches in front of any part of your face that you have become fond of.

But accidents can happen even when you’re standing still.  When you bend over, you can run your face into something below and in front of you.  The goal is to always remember to check before bending over.  Some things to remember to do before bending down:

  1. Sweep your foot or hand in front of you to see if something is there,
  2. Bend over slowly rather than immediately reaching for a dropped object,
  3. Take a step backwards before bending over, or  
  4. If you can, lower yourself instead of bending at the waist.  

Changing lifelong habits takes awhile.  The key is to begin to transition to habits that help you.  Let me know if you found something here helpful.  


This is my husband’s second year for your calendar and pen order. LOVE THEM ALL!!

Your product is great and has given my husband his “freedom” back – he knows when his appointment are without needing to ask anyone He loves being in control of his schedule and life.  Independence – a very good thing to keep as long as physically possible!!

Thank you again, from both myself and my husband.

Alexis S.  Port Angeles, WA


Image of Edward, owner of EZ2See

Edward Cohen is the creator of the EZ2See® weekly planner/calendar. 

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Finding Stuff, Part 2: Knowing Your Clothes

Finding stuff and then knowing what it is

Here are some tips to consider when poor eyesight impacts identifying your clothing items. What ever you do, it has to work for you.  Too many rules and it might not work over the long term.  You know yourself.  Find the right balance of simplicity and complexity that will help you.

  • The fewer variety of colors, patterns and styles you have, the less confusing it will be.
  • I love safety pins.  I use them to keep pairs of socks together before tossing them in the hamper.
  • By putting the pin at the top, heel or tow of the sock pair, it tells me the sock colors or material.
  • Do you have a pullover top that you have trouble identifying the front from the back?  Put a safety pin inside the rear collar.

Make your Closet a Helpful System

  • Organize related items by hanging them on the left or right side. If there are other natural dividers on the closet rod, use them.
  • Use different types of hangers for similar things.
  • Point the open end of the hanger hook facing towards or away for similar items.
  • Hang tops and bottoms that go together on the same hanger.
  • Let which side the buttons on a button up top face mean something.

If you swap out seasonal Items, maintain any order you’ve created by storing similar items together.

As I’ve said before, there are professionals trained in methods that will make your life easier.  Track down where you can find them.  Your state will have a program for either seniors or the blind.   Start by reaching out to them.

Lastly, if you have systems that work for you, please share them with me.

Image of Edward, owner of EZ2See

Edward Cohen is the legally-blind creater of the EZ2See® weekly planner/calendar.

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Finding stuff, Part 1: In the Kitchen

Finding stuff and then knowing what it is

If your eyesight no longer gives you the information you need about the world around you, it’s time to pay more attention to other senses.   The sense of touch is the sense most used by low-vision and blind people to learn about the world around them.  Below are things that I’ve come up with that work for me.  Please share some that work for you.  You may need sighted assistance to set up some of these.  

I’ve divided these tips into two parts.  This one focuses on dining issues and finding and identifying things in the kitchen. The next one deals with clothing issues.

Making eating a bit easier

  • Yes, you can touch your food to help get it onto a fork, but probably not when dining with strangers.
  • If you have some sight, consider selecting a plate or bowl with a color that contrasts with the contents to makes food easier to spot.  
  • Some meals are easier eaten in a bowl instead of on a plate.  This might help when dining out.

What’s in this container?

Rubber bands are my friend.  Here are a few ways I use them.

  • There are several similar salad dressing bottles in the fridge door, but my Italian dressing is the only one adorned with a rubber band.  
  • We store many dry items in identical glass jars.  The one with my corn chips have a rubber band around the cap.  My cracker jar has a rubber band around the bottle cap.
  • Olives always go into the same glass jar on which I’ve put a tactile bump on the cap.
  • Consider learning the braille alphabet.  Then you can use adhesive labels with a word or letter.

 Where is that button?

Our microwave and other appliances have a flat screen display, useless for the blind and low-vision.  

I put a tactile bump on the microwave 30 second and off button and I’m good to go.  These tactile bumps are small adhesive-backed raised dots.  An example you are familiar with is the one your cabinet doors close against, to protect the wood.   Find them online or at a hardware,  big box or dollar store.

There are so many handy tips and devices to make kitchen tasks easier.  Consider finding and working with a trained rehabilitation teacher.  They can be very helpful.  

My next post deals with identifying and managing clothing.

Image of Edward, owner of EZ2See

Edward Cohen is the creator of the EZ2See® weekly planner/calendar.

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EZ2See Products are on YouTube!

My story is on YouTube! Mark McGlinch, a fellow attendee of Rochester Open Coffee Club Tech Meetup, created and posted this video for EZ2See Products.

Periodically it was suggested that I make a video showcasing the calendar.  The idea was that seeing someone flip through it would do a better job explaining than reading words or looking at still images.

Okay, I get it, but where to get the help to do this at a price I could justify.

At an entrepreneur meeting, I had the good fortune to meet another semi-retired guy with a strong video background.  When I mentioned my product and that I was hoping to someday make a video, he was intrigued.

As so often happens, by being out and about, I’d met an interesting person and made a valuable connection and even a friend.  At our first real meeting, Mark said he wanted to do this.

I shared that I also had a video background and brought my descriptions of each shot of the video.  Needless to say, Mark was happy that much of the groundwork was done.

Some time later, he returned an updated and improved version of the shots.  Using his equipment and my kitchen as the set, we planned our next steps.

Mark’s version had fewer shot segments with longer limes for me to say.  Repeating them over and over I learned them, but just barely. Since I wouldn’t be able to see cue cards, getting help with my lines was my biggest challenge.  If I only knew braille better!

To keep the video brief, every word was important, so no ad libbing.  Eventually, all the segments were shot and Mark went off to put it all together.

It was a thrill when the email with the link to the video appeared.  Taking a deep breath, I watched it for the first time. Mark’s work was great, but I felt my delivery was awful.  It isn’t at all how I talk.

But Mark and my wife said it was fine.  So, with grateful thanks to Mark, and with their support, it went online and you can see it here.   Only time will tell how helpful people find it.

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