What is a white cane?

This is a question I get asked frequently as a Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist. In one sense, it is a fairly simple answer, but in reality, what a white cane is, and how it can change the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired is far more complex.

First, for the simple answer, a white cane is a mobility tool for the blind and visually impaired.

And now for the more complex answer. A white cane is a tool that with the proper training from an orientation and mobility specialist and practice can increase a person’s safety, independence, efficiency, and confidence while navigating their environments. This is accomplished by the benefits a white cane can provide to a person who is blind or visually impaired.

The bottom of a white cane with a ball on the end going over the yellow bumps signaling that the side walk is ending and the road is beginning. Benefits of a White Cane

  1. Obstacle detection
  2. Detect changes in terrain (sidewalk cracks, carpet to the tile floor, etc.)
  3. Locating landmarks for orientation
  4. Warn of drop-offs (curbs, stairs, etc.)
  5. Identification to others of visual impairment
  6. Provide auditory feedback from the environment

For someone who is blind or visually impaired, the thought of using a white cane can be intimidating and a tough challenge to be overcome. However, the use of a white cane can positively change lives and I highly recommend reaching out to an orientation and mobility specialist if you, or someone you know, would benefit from learning more.

Future In Sight staff can help guide you to available resources and services that help individuals with vision loss increase independence, safety, and quality of life. To get started today, please contact one of our Social Workers at services@futureinsight.org or by phone toll-free at 1-800-464-3075. You can also visit Contact Us – Future In Sight!

 

Michael Mulligan, Future In Sight’s Orientation and Mobility Specialist, demonstrates the use and benefits of a white cane in the video below.

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