White cane helps family man continue exploring Halifax with kids

August 8 2017 - JasonHibbs.JPGJason Hibbs was not much older than his boys are now when he was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa – an eye condition that causes damage to the retina, the tissue lining the inside of the eye that sends visual images to the brain.

The gradual destruction of light sensing cells in Jason’s retina, causes night blindness and a loss of peripheral vision.

Together with his wife, Sara, their sons William and Adam (ages 9 and 5), Jason loves to do things as a family, such as playing games, reading and exploring the Boardwalk and the Halifax Citadel.

Only recently, Jason is navigating the city with the help of a long white cane to detect obstacles in his path, and identify himself as having partial sight to the public.

Jason turned to CNIB in December 2016, when his deteriorating night vision affected his mobility. Here, he met Johanna Stork, Orientation and Mobility Specialist, who teaches safe and independent travel to Nova Scotians who are blind or partially sighted.

The pair created a plan to begin working on his independent travel skills.

Jason had initially intended on using his white cane only in the evening, on his commute home from work. When he starting using his cane, however, he realized what a useful tool it was. Jason has now started using it every time he goes out.

"Sometimes they don't know how much vision I still have," Jason said, explaining that people around him are helpful, if occasionally misguided, when they see his cane.

As his vision continues to change, so does Jason's comfort with it and with the cane. He has grown more confident using his long, white cane in different situations, and has gained a sense of independence he didn't know he was missing.