As a white cane user myself (Dave), the white cane is the one item that I can’t leave the house without (obviously other than my clothes and shoes!).
Simple yet effective, the white cane allows me to have a reasonable level of independence and, if the sweeping technique is used correctly, it enables me to detect steps, kerbs and other hazards such as lamp posts, A frames and cars parked on the pavements. What it doesn’t detect is overhanging objects such as trees and bushes. This is one of the reasons why I wear my sunglasses nearly all the time as they protect my eyes from being poked or scratched from these things. If you have a pavement outside your house, please ensure that you keep your trees, hedges or bushes well-trimmed.
Here are 5 facts you might not know about the white cane:
1. To suit the shortest children to the tallest adults, canes come in all sizes, some as long as 6ft (1.85m) tall.
2. Some people tap their canes for the audio feedback, while others keep continuous contact with the ground.
3. Canes can have dozens of different tips: plastic, metal, round, flat, soft, hard and rolling. All serve a different purpose and are appropriate in different environments (depending on the floor surface).
4. The majority of canes fold up but some are telescopic and some are rigid.
5. Although the international white cane is white in colour, you can get canes in different colours or with bright patterns on. These are sometimes preferred by children and teenagers and it is felt that it is better for them to use a cane to get around safely than not use one because it is white.
If you see me or anyone else out using a white cane, please remember these 3 things…
1. Acknowledge that you’re there. Most vision impaired people are tuned in to their environments and can hear you coming towards them. Hiding in a hedge or jumping out of the way makes you look silly; just say ‘Hi’!
2. Getting around without sight can be daunting and we do have to concentrate on where we are all the time. It is therefore appreciated if you, the sighted person, moves out of our way when we’re approaching. You can see where you’re going; we’re likely to get lost if we go off our memorised route or can get disorientated if we need to turn to avoid you.
3. If you see someone with a White Cane waiting to cross a road, rather than assume that we need help, ask us if we would like some assistance with knowing when it is safe to cross – we don’t usually bite!! J
We’re always interested to know about other people’s experiences and thoughts. Please share these by commenting…
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