The White Cane

The white cane is just one of many to​​ols used by people with vision loss – from toddlers to seniors - to assist with safety, mobility and independence. The cane is used to check for objects in a person’s path, changes in the walking surface (from cement to grass, for example) and to check for dangers like steps and curbs.

A secondary function is identification: recognized around the world, the white cane clearly tells other pedestrians and drivers that the user is a person with vision loss.

Three to choose from

There are three different types of canes that someone with vision loss might choose to use: identification, support and long canes.

  1. Identification canes are lightweight and can often be folded or collapsed to fit in a purse or knapsack when not in use. They are used to help with depth perception, and finding things like stairs and curbs.
  2. A support cane is designed to safely support the user’s weight – perfect for a user who is elderly or who has a physical disability. It can be rigid or collapsible, depending on the user’s preference.
  3. Long canes are used as “probes” and are usually used when the person is traveling in an unfamiliar area to provide an extra measure of safety.

Safe Travel 101

All types of white canes require special training from an Orientation and Mobility instructor, who demonstrates proper techniques, wayfinding and safety.

Contact a CNIB Orientation and Mobility instructor in your community for more information about learning to use a white cane.