If you’ve ever wondered what the process of learning to use a cane might entail, then there is a book you should add to your personal library.  Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith by Amy L. Bovaird provides a detailed account of an adventurous woman’s journey from denial to blind rehab services, including braille and cane training.  

Audiobook Bovaird begins by setting the stage for the reader, describing how Retinitis Pigmentosa affects her life.  I like the description she gives about RP so much that I may ask the author if double vision blog can quote it in the “What We See” section of our blog.  

“Living with RP is like having a picture tube gradually wear out on a television screen.  Each eye has different islands of useable sight.  Depending on the angle or lighting in which we see something, one island may compensate for a missing island in the other eye.  and therefore some days we can see better and thus move around more easily.”

She goes on to describe the different ways RP can affect a person’s life, and the choices that confront many of us living with this disease.

“Early on, clumsiness affects general mobility.  Later, it brings an RP sufferer to a crossroads….Some aren’t frightened of these changes at all, they take on the responsibility of cane training matter-of-factly in order to stay independent.  Others cannot bring themselves to pick up the phone to ask for help….People fear being treated differently or looked down upon.”  

In addition to the primary topic of mobility, Bovaird incorporates her strong faith in God throughout the book, sharing her personal prayers and relevant Bible verses.  She also brings forth and explores several other interesting topics within the blind and visually-impaired community.  

“Both ‘blind’ and ‘sight’ acted as trigger words, igniting people’s passions.  From what I could glean, some considered ‘sight’ a cover-up and ‘blind’ as acceptance of one’s situation.  This extended to training centers and their training philosophies, which hinged on their names….The argument turned both political and personal.  I couldn’t believe how my innocent comment to Bob caused so many hard feelings.  I felt as if I had entered a foreign country without knowing the rules or the culture, and had just committed a serious faux pas.”  

At the end of the book, I appreciate how Bovaird does not claim to be the perfect cane user following mobility training.  She explains how, as a person with slowly deteriorating vision, she sometimes still struggles with using her cane and communicating with people about what she is unable to see.  This is something I certainly relate to, and I love how she is able to find the humor in these situations, in what she terms “Cane Confessions: The Lighter Side to Mobility”.

For me, the most enjoyable part of reading this book was learning about Bovaird’s International travels, her passion for other cultures and languages, and the ways in which she chooses to connect and relate to others.  Which  is why I am really looking forward to a guest post from Bovaird later this week in which she will explore the topic of blindness in various cultures.

In the meantime, you can check out the recently-released audio version of Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith (which is the way I chose to read her book!) 

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5 thoughts on “Book Review: Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith

  1. I will check out her book. Yesterday in my place of work a colleague asked me about how visually impaired people who are not guide dog owners manage. I explained that most visually impaired people are not guide dog owners but use a long white cane or carry on their lives without any mobility aids if they possess sufficient sight to do so. He was surprised by my answer and I must confess that I was surprised he didn’t know the majority of those with sight problems don’t use guide dogs, (as it happens I am a guide dog owner and am now working with my fourth dog, Trigger).

    • Hi Kevin,
      Thank you for taking time to check check out my book!
      I love dogs and plan to be a guide dog user as well at the right time.
      I liked your answer to your friend. Also, your comment here was right on target! The vast majority of people are living with vision loss the best they can because the spectrum of vision loss is so wide. Most feel they can get along without any mobility help like I did for many years. But it’s such a challenge, which tends to be hidden and sometimes, lonely. No one knows the modifications or concessions that need to be made. My goal is to bridge the gap that makes those with vision loss feel they must hide it from others and communicate a positive dialogue with the sighted community on this issue. Feel free to pop over to my website at amybovaird.com to read more of my writing. Thanks!

  2. Hi Jenelle,
    Thank you so much for posting a review of my book. It is a thrill to read the review and also to learn we have so much in common. In addition to our mutual love for travel, I, too, used to work with Immigration and Refugee Services. This was through Catholic Social Services as a receptionist and volunteer ESL teacher! I really love the clarity and vividness the narrator (Sandy Weaver Carmen) I chose to be my “voice” in the audio version of the book. I hope you did too!
    Thank you again for featuring my book on your blog and for taking time to review it!

    • Oh, Yes, I’m glad you brought up Sandy Weaver Carver. She did a great job as your “voice” and was very pleasant to listen to.

      So neat that you worked in refugee/immigration services! We actually partnered with Catholic Community Services (Seattle) for some of our programs. My org was under the umbrella of Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) and I was a program manager for an asset-building project and micro enterprise development programs. Most of my colleagues were from East Africa, Vietnam, and the Ukraine, and I loved learning about their lives and various cultures/traditions.

      Thanks again for sharing your story, Amy!


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