White Cane - Additional Comments
For the Office for the Blind and Visually Impaired (OBVI) staff, support
canes should be treated as a medical device and are prescribed by their
doctor and their usage taught by a Physical Therapist for specific reasons. They can be
used for stability, reduction of stress on specific joints, in situation
of lowered stamina, or other physical factors.
Unfortunately, in the not so distant past,
support canes have been given out without much thought in the Blind
Rehabilitation field other than they can be used to identify vision loss
for the individual. The folding Hycor support cane is an example of canes
given out inappropriately in the past because individuals didn't what to
carry a long cane, and the Hycor cane folded up and could be put away.
The Office for the Blind and Visually
Impaired (OBVI), staff are not really in a position to prescribe support
However, an example of a good replacement cane is the adjustable Ambutech support
cane of the same length.
This type of cane provides excellent support and is white for
identification. White tape on a cane helps with identification of vision loss.
Some individuals say they need a support cane but have not
been prescribed one by their doctor. It is possible they should be using a
long cane to feel in front of them, instead of a support cane beside them.
In a situation such as this, a support cane
should be discouraged, and a folding ID cane should be recommended (one of the graphite ID canes is an excellent example). With this type of
folding ID cane, they can choose to use it instead of the support cane. At least they have a choice.
When ordering an ID cane, a basic measurement
to mid-chest or "arm pit" high will be fine. The specific length
to touch where the feet land is not as critical as when using a long cane
in the two-point touch technique.
When they get the ID cane, a follow up lesson with the
basic diagonal technique is recommended. This
technique gives them the opportunity to utilize their residual vision
(visual scanning) while the cane picks up any drop-offs or obstacles they
One of the strengths of the Office for the Blind and Visually Impaired is
indoor orientation training. Additionally, teaching orientation and
sighted guide skills to the family members can enhance confidence and
travel. Additionally, a presentation to the staff of nursing homes on using
the Sighted Guide Techniques
and how to be consistent when providing orientation to new residents would
be useful when they have a turnover of staff.
Comments written by Tom Langham, Office for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Last Revised: July 12, 2010