Sponsored
$1,000 LASIK Discount Washington DC
Myvision.org Home

White Canes for the Blind: Types & Where to Buy

White canes are specialized tools that allow for individuals with reduced vision to collect information about their environment, so they can navigate successfully. 

White Cane Specifics

The color of the cane is a signal for others regarding the extent of the individual’s level of visual impairment. A white cane that contains a red bottom section indicates that the individual using the device has low vision but can see to some extent. A cane that is white and red striped indicates that the user is completely blind and/or deaf. 

The soft rubber tip allows for the user to make contact with the ground as they walk and navigate their surroundings, obtaining information about the characteristics of the environment. A white cane can provide this information to the user:

  • Whether or not objects are in their path
  • The stability of the surface on which they are walking
  • The firmness and structural integrity of the surface
  • Whether or not a hole or indent in the walking surface is present
  • If the surface is slippery or wet
  • Their orientation and whether they are walking in a straight line versus veering to one direction
  • Sudden changes in terrain

Why Do Those With Visual Impairments Use White Canes?

Individuals with visual impairments use white canes for two main reasons.

  1. Navigation and orientation: The main reason that individuals who are visually impaired use white canes is they provide critical information about the environment that enables them to navigate independently, after some initial training. With practice and time, individuals who are visually impaired can safely leave the house, walk around their neighborhood, explore new environments, and negotiate areas with traffic with the help of a white cane.
  2. Communication and signaling to others: It may not be common knowledge, but the markings on a white cane serve as signals to others on the level of visual impairment a person has. This can be important for others to know, as they can then help the individual if there are environmental risks present. 
Looking for the Best LASIK Near You?
Find a LASIK Surgeon

Types of White Canes

There are three types of white canes:

  • Guide cane: This is a shorter cane that is used to detect immediate obstacles in one’s path. Users hold these canes in a diagonal manner across the body to identify any objects in the way, such as steps and curves. This cane has limited movement potential, but it can be an effective tool for individuals with visual impairment. 
  • Symbol cane: This is a lesser-known cane that is used by people with limited, but functional, vision. This type of cane is held in front of the user to signal to others that they have limited vision. It is useful when navigating in very busy areas with a lot of people.
  • Long cane: These canes extend from the user’s sternum to the floor. They primarily help individuals who are blind or visually impaired to identify and avoid obstacles. Users can roll the tip along the ground or tap it to gain sensory input about the surface and overall environment.

Best White Canes for the Blind

The best white cane for you will depend on several factors, such as your level of visual impairment, the environment in which you will be using the cane, and your personal preferences. 

For general use, a long cane provides the most environmental feedback and allows for the maximum amount of navigational abilities, enabling those with training and experience to walk independently in both familiar and unfamiliar environments. 

When walking in busy areas, a symbol cane is appropriate because it will signal to other individuals that you are visually impaired, which can help them avoid getting in your way or let them know they may assist you in navigating an area that may not be familiar. 

A guide cane can help you in familiar or smaller spaces, such as inside a building. These canes are not ideal for navigating independently outside. 

Some of the best white canes currently available include the following:

  • Visionu Aluminum Folding Cane: This 12.6-inch cane is an affordable option that is light in weight and can be folded for easy transport and storage. The cane also contains red and white reflective coloring to allow for visibility at night.
  • Tmishion Folding Walking Stick: This cane is designed specifically for hiking and navigating uneven terrain. The cane is foldable, as its name suggests, and it contains both a non-slip handle and wrist strap.
  • NO-JAB White Cane: At 50 inches, this long white cane allows for a high level of mobility and navigating capacity. The NO-JAB cane also contains a shock-absorbing handle that recoils if it comes into contact with a sharp object. This cane combines a high level of comfort with maximum durability and is useful in all types of conditions, even in snow. 

Facts About White Canes

White canes are incredibly helpful tools that have improved quality of life for countless individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Here are some interesting facts about these tools:

  • White canes come in many different lengths and types, each serving a specific purpose. 
  • Not all individuals who use white canes are blind. 
  • Not all white canes are white. The color of the cane is important and provides critical information to others about the level of visual impairment from which a user suffers. 
  • White canes were invented in the early 1930s in Illinois. They later became standardized for users worldwide when the Frenchman Guilly d’ Herbemont donated 5,000 white canes to individuals in the country. 
  • White canes are supported by a law that was created in 1964, governing the rights of users and protecting their ability to have them at all times in public locations, such as on airplanes. 

References

  1. Five Fascinating Facts About White Canes. (June 2020). Accessibility.com.

  2. NO-JAB Cane for The Blind (Patent Pending) 50’’. (2023). Amazon.

  3. SRYLED VISIONU White Cane Aluminum Folding Cane for the Blind (Folds Down 4 Sections) (120 cm)(47.24 inch) . (2023). Amazon.

  4. TMISHION Foldable Walking Stick Cane Reflective Anti-Shock Guide Crutch for Blind People Outdoor Hiking Cane for Men and Women Easy Adjustable Elder Stick with Soft Handle and Stable Holder. (2023). Amazon.

  5. What Are the Different Types of White Canes? (August 2020). Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

  6. Enhanced White Cane for Visually Impaired People. (January 2018). Journal of Applied Computer Science & Mathematics.

Last Updated March 15, 2023

Note: This page should not serve as a substitute for professional medical advice from a doctor or specialist. Please review our about page for more information.

Not sure if you’re a LASIK candidate?
30 Second Quiz