Ellie’s story

Brain surgery left Ellie Howe from Trevallyn, with hemianopia. The bubbly 19 year old took to sharing her journey with vision loss on social media. She hopes by sharing her story, she can help others in her shoes and contribute a greater understanding and awareness in the community.

Girl sitting at the bus stop


Struggling with her vision loss, Ellie enlisted the help of VisAbility’s Orientation and Mobility (O&M) specialist Jodi. Working with Jodi, Ellie learnt how to use firstly an identification cane (ID), and for judging depth of steps and gutters. She has now transitioned to a long cane (folding mobility) as her balance significantly improved. The long cane increases her safety by detecting surface and level changes, drop offs, trip hazards and obstacles. As part of her training with Jodi, Ellie explored CBD travel routes such as bus stops, cafes and taxi ranks and learnt how to catch a bus independently. She also underwent general O&M which included road crossing awareness and skill development, which covered scanning for traffic at driveway crossings.

These techniques increase Ellie’s confidence with independent decision making and communication with drivers.

A young woman standing at a bus stop with a bus behind her

“Jodi has been hugely helpful in increasing my confidence in crowds. Due to the vision cane she has supplied and trained me with, people are often more understanding of my difficulties, and I feel more comfortable that I won’t walk into things I can’t see.”

Highlights for Ellie happen every time she becomes more independent.

“In the past, that has meant learning to cross driveways, learning how to utilise a vision cane and, now, learning to catch public transport. The bus trips were something I had been keen to try for a while, but didn’t feel physically ready for. Jodi has worked with me until I have reached a point where I feel safe to independently catch a bus.“

“Most things can be challenging, but if I stick to it these things are much easier.”

I think that the most important step for me was trusting Jodi. If I hadn’t had complete faith that she knew what she was doing, the process would have been much harder.

Ellie Howe, VisAbility client

“I would say I’m happy that I answer people’s questions. A very friendly man talked to me on my first independent bus trip. He was very curious about my disability. I think that had anything happened during that trip, he would have been able to help me. I managed independently, but I was much more comfortable having someone who knew my struggles close by.”

My blog is run through Instagram (link opens in new window) and YouTube (link opens in new window) in the form of vlogs and captions, but I’m very happy to share them. I aim to inspire people with my experiences on these platforms, so I’m always posting!

Our Orientation and Mobility Specialists support you to move through your environments safely and effectively. To find out how we can assist you, call our friendly staff on (03) 6232 1222.