Making Adjustments

Consider The Long White Cane

Nov 7, 2017

Consider The Long White Cane

A close up of a long white cane on a street with yellow lines.

A close up of a long white cane on a street with yellow lines.

Vision loss can elevate feelings of insecurity, on many levels. Actively making adjustments helps maintain or regain the confidence to continue doing the things you need, and want, to do. That includes getting around safely.

Taking a fall is unpleasant at any age.  Getting back up, in one piece, is not always easy. What you don’t see can definitely hurt you. The long white cane is a very useful tool in preventing falls.

The white cane is still believed by many to indicate total blindness. But everyone should be aware, this is a tool that significantly improves mobility for people with low vision.  And it is increasingly being utilized by older adults with all kinds of visual impairments.

Although it can restore confidence and independence, the white cane remains a difficult step for many to take. The reluctance commonly felt about using the cane, is almost always replaced by the sheer empowerment it offers.

Use of a cane will greatly reduce the risk of injury. It provides feedback about the path ahead, changes in elevation, and alerts to obstacles. It will help you orient to conditions of darkness or bright glare. The cane will also inform others of your visual impairment.

A professional Orientation & Mobility Specialist should always be consulted for proper training in the use of a long white cane. Contact your local vision rehabilitation center or ask your physician for a referral.

Long white canes are lightweight and easily retractable. They fold up to a small bundle that fits into a tote or backpack. And they open up again with the flick of a wrist. 

Don’t allow fear to curtail your freedom. The upside of cane use will far outweigh the downside.


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About the Author: Dorrie Rush

Dorrie Rush is the Chief Content Officer and Visual Accessibility Expert at Ophthalmic Edge Patients (OE Patients), an online resource, presented by the Association for Macular Diseases, providing practical information and empowering advice for living a full and successful life with vision loss.

She is the former Director of the Grunwald Technology Center and Information Resource Service at Lighthouse International 2001 to 2016. Dorrie is known to have an eccentric view, which is particularly useful in compensating for her central vision loss from Stargardt Disease.



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