Based on your experience, what have you found to be the best choices for children?
The author discusses the parts of typical canes. What would you add to this discussion?
The author asserts that the long cane is in many significant ways superior to electronic travel aids? Do you agree or disagree? Why?
This is a rather short section. How would you expand this discussion of the properties of the cane?
Over the span of my career, I experimented with a variety of canes. One time I handed out NFB fiberglass canes to all my students and told them that the new canes were to replace their heavier, wobbly folding canes (that they all loved and still use). I switched to the NFB canes because they are light and well balanced. I also liked the idea that they were not the usual red and white canes (that seemed stereotypical, old fashion, not emblematic of the new thrust toward "the cane as a symbol of independence). Anyway, in less than a week all the NFB canes came back in shredded little pieces. Kids are hard on canes.
I still use the NFB canes for training and for high school students, but the very young students get aluminum alloy kiddy canes. I have also used the NFB cane for a student with low tone. His muscle strength was so weak that the aluminum canes were a burden. He loved the NFB cane so much that he was actually careful not to break it. Anyway, most elementary and middle school students get metal folding canes. During the course of training I experiment with a variety of cane types, rigid included, and if individual kids have preferences, I usually yield to their wishes (let them learn from their choices).
Canes come in a wide variety of designs. The "standard" long cane, the aluminum alloy, rigid cane with the white and red reflecting tape, golf club grip, crook, and plastic tip is being challenged by a growing variety of design styles. Canes are now made from various materials, from metal alloys to carbon composites, from plastic to fiberglass. Most are hollow, some are solid. Canes fold, telescope, or are rigid. They come with reflecting paints or special tape that reflects light. They can be white with red tips, have greenish shafts, or gray, or all white (there are probably blue and pink canes too). Some canes even have strobe lights built into the handles for night travel (I saw one demonstrated at a conference in Amsterdam, but have not heard of them sense).
Cane tips come in a growing array of designs from the traditional two inch plastic slip-on tip, to kids mushroom tips. Some tips roll, others are smooth fixed disks. Grips come from bicycle or golf club manufacturers; some grips are plastic. Some grips have a groove for the index finger, many do not. There are canes with elastic bands to slip over wrists. Other grips have attached chain rings that can slip over wrists or serve as a loop for hanging up the cane when not in use. Some canes have crooks at the grip end to protect knuckles, other canes (many folding) have no crooks.
(Jennifer Savin, a mobility specialist from Buffalo New York, sent me the following comments about the above paragraph...I agree with her concerns:)
"The author claims that the elastic should be worn around the wrist. I am afraid that I strongly disagree with this. I teach all my clients, both young and old, that the elastic is solely to hold the cane together when folded, nothing more. This is for client safety. One never knows if a car will take a corner too tightly and accidentaly contact a cane and take it and the client with it if the elastic is around the wrist. (I saw this very thing happen during my training)."
There are laser canes and canes that talk. In developing nations, tree limbs still serve as easy and quick canes. The Third World stick, despite disadvantages when compared with light weight alloy canes, is still capable of delivering the twenty one roles of the miracle cane. The cane is a tool. The design that a blind individual chooses (or the several styles chosen for different needs) depends upon personal style, utility, mood, and taste.
The cane has stood the test of time, even though fancy electronic devices have been developed as a better alternate. Electronic travel aids (ETA's) cost on the average about $2,000. ETA's do have some advantages, but compared to the long cane they still have a long way to go. Electronic gadgets inevitably pull some attention from the sense of hearing. There are beeps and hums to monitor and interpret. As important as electronic travel aids are to the competent blind traveler, they are in many ways inferior to the long cane. The cane is cheaper, easier to manufacture, easier to repair or replace, easy to store, easy to care for, and requires very little formal training to master. There is also no law that says to yield the right of way to a Mowat Sensor, and Pathsounders haven't caught on as symbols of independence. The long cane is unaffected by winter storms, drizzle, bitter cold or unbearable heat. It keeps on ticking long after all the other miracle devices have melted down or surrendered.
Return to the index page Return to the top of this page.
Back to the Cane home page Ahead to Preschoolers and the long cane
Back to the Mobility home page