ON TRACK: Member for Bundaberg Jack Dempsey presented Ros Matthews with a medallion marking her graduation from UltraCane training. Also present is president of the North Bundaberg Lions, Coral Mayfield.
ON TRACK: Member for Bundaberg Jack Dempsey presented Ros Matthews with a medallion marking her graduation from UltraCane training. Also present is president of the North Bundaberg Lions, Coral Mayfield. Mike Knott

Blind woman regains independence

ROS Matthews was on the brink of finishing an environmental science degree before she was declared legally blind 18 months ago.

But thanks to the aid of a high-tech cane, she was able to regain her independence.

Ms Matthews was presented with a medallion at a special luncheon at the Burnett Bowls Club on Saturday, which marked her graduation in using the Ultra Cane - a cane which uses bat sonar technology to find obstacles.

"It's a new beaut version of a white cane," she said.

"It gives you a lot more information about the environment - it will tell me if there are tree branches in front of me."

The 54-year-old suffered from two degenerative eye diseases and, after two failed operations, became completely blind.

"I expected the operation to correct the sight, and it didn't," Ms Matthews said.

"That's when I decided I'd have to do something to 2 regain some independence."1

Ms Matthews contacted Guide Dogs Queensland and began training with a white cane.

"It was just fantastic. I was able to get back to being completely independent - it has totally changed my prospects," she said.

She is now one of 60 people in Queensland using the advanced mobility aid, Ultra Cane.

Saturday marked International White Cane Day, and at the luncheon Rikki Chaplain, who is also legally blind, was awarded with the Harry Buchback Award

"It is given to those people that overcome the isolation and loneliness of having a sight impairment," Ms Matthews said.

Ms Matthews now plans to return to uni next year to 2 finish her degree.1



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