BY KIM BATTEN
For any parent of young children, the task of getting them fed, dressed and out of the house each day is trying at the best of times.
But it’s also a privilege.
Until recently, I had never taken my children to the park alone, I had never taken them to the library and I had never walked them home from day care.
My name is Kim Batten. I am a blind mother of two beautiful young children, wife to a wonderful husband and teacher to the blind and visually impaired. I am one of 500,000 Australians living with vision loss.
I grew up in a small town in the US. I was partially sighted and I knew the streets well, so I didn’t have to rely on my white cane too heavily to aid my mobility. I enjoyed an active life playing sports at school and going to university away from home in Chicago. But two months after I married my husband, my vision deteriorated rapidly and I lost my sight much sooner than I’d ever anticipated. Just a few months later, I made the nervous decision to move with my husband to Australia – a totally alien environment and one I have never and will never see for myself.
After losing my eyesight and relocating, my self-confidence plummeted. I ruled out the possibility of ever having the same independence I once enjoyed; the idea of being able to navigate myself and my children safely seemed incomprehensible.
The turning point was a visit to Guide Dogs Victoria where I mustered the courage to attend orienteering and mobility training with a white cane. The white cane training has literally changed my life and returned to me the independence I had lost.