AbledPeople-Daniel Kish-Why-Lily-Grace Hooper-needs-her-long-cane

POSTED ON November 22nd  - POSTED IN AbledPeople
AbledPeople Post-banner shows Daniel Kish standing on a round red-carpeted stage at the 2015 TED Conference in Vancouver. He has dark hair and is wearing a red polo shirt with black trousers and is holding a long white navigation cane. Behind him is a large 3D logo spelling out TED in backlit capital letters. The audience surrounds the stage. The headline reads: Daniel Kish: Why Lily-Grace should be allowed her long cane.

The Real-Life ‘Batman’ Fights For Lily-Grace Hooper’s Right To Use A Long Navigation Cane And Asks:“Who’s Really Getting In Whose Way?

 

Perhaps no one is better qualified to weigh-in and provide professional advice to both sides in the debate over a blind 7 year-old UK girl’s right to use a long navigation in school than Daniel Kish. He calls it a human right.

Daniel holds two Masters degrees, Life-Span Developmental Psychology from California State University, San Bernardino, and Special Education from Cal. State Los Angeles. Daniel also holds two current national certificates in orientation and mobility – Certificated Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS), since 1996, and National Orientation and Mobility Certificant (NOMC), since 2005. He is the first blind person to obtain the COMS, and also the first to obtain both certificates.

Less formally, he’s known around the world as ‘The Real Life Batman‘ for his self-developed form of echolocation that he calls ‘FlashSonar™‘, a humanized form of sonar similar to that used by bats and dolphins to navigate in the dark by sending out high-pitched clicking sounds.

Why did Daniel develop this technique and what’s all of this got to do with Lily-Grace’s case? You’ll get the fascinating answers in the following video of Daniel’s presentation at the main international TED 2015 Conference in Vancouver. Then we’ll follow that with why he’s best qualified to comment on  what’s shaping up to be “Canegate” in Bristol, England, and the scientific justification for Lily-Grace’s use of a long cane.

Daniel Kish, Founder and President of 15 year-old Long Beach, California-based World Access For The Blind is speaking out on behalf of 7 year-old Bristol student Lily-Grace Hooper who was banned from using her white navigation cane at school because it may pose a danger to others.

Daniel asks the rhetorical question, Is the danger from the navigation cane or more from the ill-informed and ill-experienced ‘health and safety’ regulators?”

Daniel and his Perceptual Navigation Instructors have provided long-cane training and FlashSonarEcholocation training to thousands of students and families in the United States and around the world, and to over 60 students and families in the U.K through about two dozen workshops since 2007, including 12 children below the age of 4.

As Daniel says, “I regard perception as a sovereign right, not to be infringed upon because it may seem inconvenient.

I have found that blind people and their sighted peers, children and adults alike, learn to accommodate the longer cane when it is respectfully regarded as a part of natural function.

Blind students learn to consider the presence of their cane with respect to others, and sighted people learn to respect that presence. If these concerns persist in a given setting, some education provided to peers should resolve the matter.

Longer canes can become awkward in congested environments. Congested technique usually resolves this, and I find children accommodate this quite well. Concerns are sometimes raised about the cane getting in people’s way.

At the risk of sounding militant, who’s getting in whose way?”

It’s Daniel Kish’s passionate belief that any child who is blind from the early years should learn to use a long cane as soon as they can walk. He has met many parents desperate to help their young children, but unable to find the support they want in their local area. He has also met other parents with older children, who say they wish they had known of his approach sooner.

In his view, withholding cane training until age seven or above is likely to cause long-term damage to the child’s mobility and independence. He calls this “dependency training” because “it fosters dependency at the age when a child should be achieving self direction.”

Daniel explains, “I worked with an 18 month old child who would only crawl when not holding on to someone. However, when she was offered the adult cane, she began taking control of the cane within minutes to gauge surface gradients and the height of steps. Within half an hour, she had wrested the cane from her dad’s hand, and was given one more appropriate to her size.”

Here he explains his unconventional approach which he calls “perceptual mobility training”. He defines this as: “Engaging the whole brain in a developmentally natural manner that activates the perceptual imaging system by fostering self directed freedom of discovery. Rather than trying to push a contrived set of skills into the student, we stimulate the imaging system to manifest skills as they are needed. It is not a collection of skills that make perception happen; it is perception that compels skills to develop.”

The Perceptual Imaging System

“Perception occurs in two stages – awareness and imaging. Awareness simply refers to the stimulus knowledge that something is present to the senses. Imaging occurs when this awareness takes on form and substance in a person’s mind. An image doesn’t need to be visual; it can be tactile or auditory as well.

For example, a young boy moving his cane touched my shoe and said, ‘I just touched someone’s shoe.’ It is one thing to know that your cane has touched something, but something about the boy’s perception of the sensation told him, not just that he’d touched something, but that it was a shoe. The brain can build images drawn from any sensory input, and any experience.”

Choosing a cane for a small child

There are as many types of canes and ways to use them as there are body types and ways of moving. These are general guidelines based on over 15 years work with many thousands of students, teachers and families of every type in nearly 40 countries, and my expertise in perceptual development. I and other instructors adopting this approach have found that it successfully activates the brain’s recognition and acceptance of the cane as a natural perceptual extension.

We use what I call a perception cane, which has the following qualities:

Full length

A certain distance of perception is needed to activate the imaging system. For this the cane should be about as long as the child is tall. Sighted people use their eyes to scan several steps ahead.

A blind child, who has shorter arms and may move more quickly and erratically than an adult, will need a long enough cane to perceive advance information about the way ahead. This allows time for the brain to receive and process all the information it needs to make decisions on moving around.

Lightweight

The cane is a delicate instrument, like an antenna, and should be as light as possible. In order to be recognised and accepted by the brain as a natural perceptual extension, the cane should not be cumbersome or awkward.

I do not usually recommend roller tips or other heavy tips. A big tip may seem easier, but it can only go so far toward covering up technique that lacks finesse.

Conductivity

As a perceptual extension, the cane should convey as much information as possible with as much ease as possible. For children I generally recommend rigid, non-folding canes. They are generally lighter, sturdier, and more conductive. They are also less likely to lead to “folded cane syndrome” in which the cane spends more time folded and stowed away than actually in use. I also do not generally recommend foam cane grips, as these tend to insulate the hand from sensations.

For more information about long cane training or to book a workshop or consultation, call World Access For The Blind at +1 866.396.7035 or visit their Contact Us page.

You can also send a message at their Facebook page.

Abled.com Banner: Related Coverage.
AbledRights link box shows a photo of Kristy Hooper and her 7 year-old daughter Lily-Grace standing outside the gates of Pembroke Primary School in Bristol, England. Lily-Grace is holding her white navigation cane because she is blind. The headline reads: Bristol, UK: Blind child's Cane Banned. Click on the banner to go to the story.
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A screen grab of petition at Change.org reads: Petitioning Headmistress of Hambrook Primary School. Hambrook Primary School: Lily-Grace Needs Her Long, White Cane at School! The photo shows 7-year-old Lily Grace, walking outside the gates of the school, cane in hand, with her mother Kristy by her side. Click the banner to sign the petition which had 3,165 signatures as of this writing. It needs 1,835 more to reach 5,000.
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AbledRights-Blind Girl Told White Cane Is Too Risky For School

POSTED ON November 22nd  - POSTED IN AbledRights
AbledRights Post banner shows a photo of Kristy Hooper and her 7 year-old daughter Lily-Grace standing outside the gates of Pembroke Primary School in Bristol, England. Kristy is holding her blind daughter's white navigation cane. The headline reads: Bristol, UK: Blind girl told white cane is 'too risky' for school.

Health and safety “gone mad”: Blind Bristol girl banned from using walking cane in primary school

Source: Bristol Post by Michael Yong November 17, 2015 + Updates

A blind girl has been banned from bringing her walking cane to school for “health and safety” reasons. Lily-Grace Hooper, who is seven, suffered a stroke when she was just four days old, which left her virtually blind.

But her school, Hambrook Primary School, has now told the youngster she can no longer use her walking cane, because it could trip up teachers and other pupils at the school.

A risk assessment by Gary Learmonth from Sensory Support Service – done on behalf of the school – said the cane caused a high risk to other people around Lily-Grace, and that she should instead have full adult support “100 per cent” at all times.

But her furious mother, Kristy, is worried her daughter will become to dependent on having someone show her around, and said having a helper following her around will set her daughter apart from the rest of the pupils.

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LATEST UPDATE: From Kristy Hooper via Facebook: “It’s a stalemate.”

Kristy Hooper I am the lucky Mummy of Lily-Grace. I will fight for her right to inclusion! We may have the world’s support but not her classmates. Terribly sad situation. She has missed a whole week of school through no fault of her own. I have reached out to the head with hope of resolution. We have stalemate! There is a petition up please, please sign and support just use #LilyGraceHooper to find thank you all for your continued support xx Or find her page here https://m.facebook.com/Lily-Grace-1413976252233173/

You can also click on the banner at the bottom of this page to sign the Petition.

_____________________________________________________________________

Lily-Grace suffered a stroke days after she was born. As a result she lost her 3D vision, and became blind in her right eye. She can now only see lights and colours in her left.

Shortly before Christmas last year, she started using long wrapping paper rolls to help her get around the house after stumbling across them.

Since then, she had asked her mum for a stick for Christmas. The seven-year-old was given a long fibre-glass walking cane by Common Sense Cane, a charity for blind children earlier this year.

Lily-Grace started using the cane in school in April. Kristy said it had become “an extension of her daughter’s arm” and that it was vital she was allowed to use it.

She added: “It is a disability, but I want to celebrate it and make sure she can become independent.

“When the school told me she can no longer bring her cane into school, I just thought this must be health and safety gone mad.

“She hasn’t had any problems with any of the other students, and none of the parents have complained about it – in fact, they have all been very supportive.

“I don’t understand where the school is coming from. Lily-Grace has taken to the cane very quickly, and she needs it as she travels to school, walks to the playground, or just being in school.”

She added: “I am absolutely livid. What about the health and safety of my girl? I like school, they are a good school, but this really is very poor advice.

Leading charity for vision-impaired children, Blind Children UK, said it was imperative a child learned independence from a young age.

A spokesman said: “Using a cane teaches a child to keep themselves safe and can help them to become less reliant on others.

“Early intervention is vital to help a child with sight loss move around more confidently and grow towards greater independence as an adult.

“While a cane may not be suitable for every child or young person with sight loss, if they are taught how to use it by a trained habilitation specialist, then, in general, there shouldn’t be an issue with using one safely around school.”

The risk assessment said Lily-Grace should have full adult support at all times, and that she should use the hand rails to get about.

She also has been asked to “walk carefully over all surfaces” especially paving stones and wet drain covers – but without the use of her current cane.

Instead the risk assessment wants her to use a shortened cane, something her parents say is not suitable because she had become used to her current cane.

Hambrook Primary School’s head teacher, Jo Dent, said they would discuss the situation with Kristy.

She said: “The school’s mobility officer raised health and safety issues around the new cane following a recent risk assessment.

“We have to consider all of our pupils, so it is important that we have an opportunity to discuss the situation before we make any decisions.

“We are very keen to resolve this issue as soon as possible and have been actively seeking to engage with the parent to bring this to an agreeable conclusion.

“The pupil has not been banned from bringing in their cane, we have simply asked them to not use it around school as a temporary measure, until we have the chance to meet with the parent and discuss the situation.

“It was initially hoped that we would have this resolved within a day or two.”

UPDATE: Regulator rubbishes ‘health and safety’ claims which denied blind Bristol girl her white cane

Geoff Cox, who heads the HSE’s public sector team, also works with schools on safety.

He said: “There is nothing in health and safety regulations that would ban a child using a walking stick in school, or anywhere else for that matter.

“In cases like these people need to sit down and work out sensible and proportionate arrangements that will work in practice. I hope common sense prevails here.

“This is an example of someone using it the wrong way. I’ve never heard of it before.

“Children have to grow up to live independently and find their own way, and other children have to learn to live in a society where there are people with disabilities and how to give them space or help them.”

He hopes the school will now work with charity Blind Children UK so they can come to a solution.

Read more: http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Regulator-rubbishes-health-safety-claims-denied/story-28193039-detail/story.html#ixzz3s7fJyLcx
Follow us: @BristolPost on Twitter | bristolpost on Facebook

Abled.com Banner: Related Coverage.
AbledPeople link box shows Daniel Kish standing on a round red-carpeted stage at the 2015 TED Conference in Vancouver. He has dark hair and is wearing a red polo shirt with black trousers and is holding a long white navigation cane. Behind him is a large 3D logo spelling out TED in backlit capital letters. The audience surrounds the stage. The headline reads: Daniel Kish: Save Lily-Grace's Long Cane. Click the box to go to the story.
HEADLINES Banner
AbledSurvival link box shows a blurred photograph of people running past the Café Republique during the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. The headline reads: Terrorist Attack: Run! Hide! Tell!. Click the box to go to the story
AbledParents link box shows a photo of a father holding his son close among other people at a candlelight vigil in Mexico City for the victims of the Paris terror attack. The boy is holding and looking at a candle burning in a glass jar. Click on the banner to go to the story.
A screen grab of petition at Change.org reads: Petitioning Headmistress of Hambrook Primary School. Hambrook Primary School: Lily-Grace Needs Her Long, White Cane at School! The photo shows 7-year-old Lily Grace, walking outside the gates of the school, cane in hand, with her mother Kristy by her side. Click the banner to sign the petition which had 3,165 signatures as of this writing. It needs 1,835 more to reach 5,000.
Click here to return to the Abled.com homepage.
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