Teaching the blind: The White Cane

The White Cane. Woman standing near a window holding a folded white cane in her hands.

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For students who are visually impaired, a white cane can be an essential tool for navigating the world safely and independently. Here are some key considerations for educators and parents when it comes to white cane use:

White canes are used to detect obstacles in the environment, providing tactile feedback to the user about their surroundings. They are also a visible indicator to others that the user is blind or visually impaired.

When introducing a white cane to a student, it’s important to provide training and support to ensure that they are using it correctly and safely. Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists (COMS or O&Ms) can provide guidance and instruction on white cane use, as well as other skills related to safe travel.

The White Cane. Young woman helping a young man who is walking with a cane.

It’s also important to ensure that the student is using the appropriate type and length of cane. Canes come in a variety of lengths and materials, and the specific type of cane that is best for a particular student may depend on their age, height, and other factors.

Finally, it’s important to foster a positive attitude toward white cane use. Students may be hesitant to use a cane because they feel self-conscious or embarrassed, but by normalizing and celebrating the use of a cane, educators and parents can help to build confidence and independence in students who are visually impaired.

By providing the necessary training, support, and resources, educators and parents can help to ensure that students who are visually impaired are able to travel safely and confidently with the help of a white cane.

Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Specialists teach individuals with visual impairments how to travel safely, confidently and independently in their environment.

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