Community Papers

Life in the Loops: View through a different lens

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The goggles aren’t that different than what you might find hanging around the neck of an average swimmer, with one exception — they are nearly impossible to see through.

One eye is covered in duct tape, the other so blurred that everything else in the room, from people to bowling pins, is nothing more than indistinct blobs.

With goggles in place and minimal vision left, there is only one thing to do: Pick up a heavy ball and try to chuck it across the room.

It’s White Cane Week in Kamloops and the local White Cane Club used its usual afternoon bowling time slot on Monday, Feb. 4, to give sighted members of the public a taste of what life is like for those living with vision loss or blindness.

About eight to 10 members of the club meet once a week at Bowlertime on the North Shore.

They bowl with assistance from spotters who help them get a sense of where the lane and gutters are located, how many pins are left and — in the words of one club member — “if you’ve used enough force to clean the gutters out.”

Among the conditions to experience at the event were macular degeneration, floaters (goggles with lenses covered in small dots and blotches), total blindness or KTW’s pick — light sensitivity.

Event organizer Vern Short, who has macular degeneration, served as the spotter for the KTW team, which also included several city councillors.

Leading bowlers by the elbow, he handed over balls, helped them tap out the bounds of the lane using a cane, and — most impressively — managed to look like he was not laughing internally as some team members threw gutter ball after gutter ball.

Short said the bowling event was meant to give those with full vision some insight into life without, but pointed out those slipping on the goggles had an advantage.

After a few frames, their eye conditions went back into padded containers to wait for the next event.

For club members, Short noted, “your eye condition doesn’t change whether you’re going shopping or going bowling or whatever.”


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