White canes are used by persons who are blind, partially sighted, and deafblind to navigate their environment safely, inform the public of their vision loss and to symbolize the many achievements of themselves and their peers.
There are three types of white canes. The ID cane is a thin, short, collapsable white cane which is carried primarily to indicate to others that the person has some degree of vision loss. Most ID cane users still have some guiding vision. The ID cane can also be used to explore features in the individual’s environment, such as a doorway.
A mobility white cane is a thicker, stronger and longer cane which enables the individual to detect obstacles along their path of travel. It is either tapped, swept or rolled from side to side providing tactile and auditory information about the user’s environment. Mobility canes can be folding or rigid and extend from the ground to anywhere from mid chest to forehead in length. A longer mobility cane enables the user to detect obstacles sooner and walk a little faster. There is often a red strip at the bottom of the cane which makes it more visible.
A support white cane is very similar to a regular support cane, providing stability for the user while informing the public that they have some degree of vision loss. A support cane can be used to explore the immediate area surrounding the user, but this is limited by the cane’s shorter length. Many seniors with partial vision will use a support white cane.
Since 1946, the first full week in February has been traditionally celebrated as “White Cane Week” in Canada. This initiative of the Canadian Council of the Blind, started with the objective of providing education and raising awareness about vision loss. It is now a week where we emphasize the equal capabilities and talents of people who are blind and partially sighted. Over the next six days, AEBC will share informative and sometimes humorous white cane stories from its members.
IMAGE ALT TEXT: person crossing a bicycle lane and street carrying a white cane