How to choose the right white cane for you
October 16, 2017
There are two types of canes that are most commonly used by those who are blind or with limited vision.
One type is the support cane, which provides physical stability. A support cane that is white can identify one as a person who is blind or has low vision.
Then there is the probing cane, which is more commonly called a white cane or a long cane. This checks and locates obstacles in your path of travel.
Long white canes are in two categories - ones that fold and those that do not. Folding canes can be collapsed and stored easily, and come in aluminum or graphite models. Graphite canes are lighter and easier to fold and unfold than aluminum ones.
For travel purposes, folding canes tend to be less sturdy when compared to straight, non-folding canes and don't provide the same amount of sensory feedback.
A Support Cane should be able to take your weight and should not be lightweight. It should also be short enough to rest your hand on top while you hold it close to your body. It should have a tip that grips the floor and does not slide.
A White Cane or long cane should be light in weight so you can hold and move it in front of you without becoming tired. It should be long enough to reach ahead and warn you about obstacles and stairs. It should have a tip that can slide easily along the ground.
A support cane and a probing cane are designed differently and serve very different purposes, so the choice of which one to use depends on your needs. If you need a cane to help you know what is on the ground in front of you, a probing cane is ideal. A support cane does not make it possible to reach far enough ahead without leaning forward. This is bad for posture and appearance and is also risky and dangerous.
If you can't see well enough to know what is on the ground in front of you and you need a cane for support, you will need two canes. One cane to give support, and the other to help you scan for obstacles ahead.
A pencil tip cane has good feedback and lightness and is good for people who cannot move their wrist for a long time. But the tip is long and thin and can get stuck in the pavement.
A roller tip helps you to walk smoothly as the tip rolls over cracks in the pavement. But it is hevaier and this can make your wrist hurt. It also does not give much feedback about small changes in the path.
A marshmallow tip is thick and does not get stuck in cracks but the tip is heavy and can make the wrist hurt.
A metal glide is light and glides easily over cracks.
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