Why My Type Of Cane


Why My Type Of Cane

     Slowing traffic sounds to my left was the first indication the corner was nearing. It was Saturday morning, downtown, and I was on my way to meet up with fellow members of a local consumer group of the blind; we were to march in a community pride parade, wearing our specially labeled T-shirts, brightly stenciled placards held high and everyone's white cane tapping in cadence.

     "So far I do not like this new tip!" I was trying out a new version of the Rain Shine tip; its upper part had been changed from a pliable rubbery substance to one that was rigid. It hit harder, changing both the vibration and sound of the cane. I always modify my cane, try and make it be the best tool for me. This one was a long white cane, up to my nose, because I was a fast walker and needed the extra forewarning of what was coming up. It was made of fiberglass, its shaft basically a hollow tapered tube and where it originally was outfitted with a longish metal screw inserted into its small end to accommodate the snapping on of a large metal tip, I removed the screw, Put on this smaller tip which slipped snuggly onto the end of the shaft, with the result being the cane was lighter at its tip end, easier to manipulate and gave a higher pitch to the tap.

     The echo feedback from the buildings I paralleled to the right ceased, a breeze struck, sounds opened up to right and left, the end of block and the curb was next. TAP, TAP. "There they are." It was the echo of utility poles next to the curb-cut. Two strides later I felt the tip of my cane dip slightly down, showing me the slant of the curb-cut.

     The cars to the left advanced, no traffic approached from the right and so I stepped out. Across the street was where we were to meet prior to walking to the staging point. Crossing swiftly, I used the echo feedback from the on-coming curb to locate the lower audio profile of the curb-cut and pointed my steps to it.

     Up on the sidewalk I listened down the block, scanning for anyone. "Nope, no one here." I was first. Then I heard footsteps coming. CLOP, CLOP. As the footsteps got within 15 feet, I heard the nylon tipped cane my friend Nancy use; totally blind, her preferred travel combo was to wear shoes with loud soles to set up echoes and a quiet cane to feel for obstacles.

     The next person coming up was Marlene, her roller tipped cane going "WIZ-/RATTLE-WIZ." She was partially blind and preferred this mode of travel aid.

     The next cane I recognized coming was the lose jointed rattle of Tom's old metal tipped, red-bottom folding cane.

     Soon, we had two dozen of us there, each with his or her favorite cane and we were ready to head out for the final rendezvous .

     "Excuse me." Spoke up a guy that had walked up. "But I notice that many of you have different styles of white canes, some tall, some short and some with a red bottom. And I'm curious as to why that is?"


e-mail responses to newmanrl@cox.net

**1. This is something people have often asked me. My cane is very long...up to
my nose. Sometimes, I think maybe I could do with one a little shorter.
But, I like what I have and it doesn't seem to get in anyone's way. So,
that's what I've used, for years. But, it took me awhile to settle on this
one. I remember using heavy straight aluminum canes, when I was in school
and learning to use a cane. Even then, my instructors kept giving me longer
and longer canes, because I was constantly overstepping them.

After that initial aluminum cane, I tried several types of folding
canes...some with elastic, one with a cable that pulled tight to hold the
cane together, and none of them lasted very long. The sections were
constantly splitting and I ended up stranded, once, when a car ran over the
end of my cane and broke it, causing the rest of the sections to fall apart
and roll away.

Then, I discovered a light weight, straight fiberglass cane from AFB. I
called to order it and asked what the longest cane they had was. The lady
told me it was 54 inches and then asked how tall I was. I told her almost 5
feet 5 inches. She said that was much to long for me and wouldn't I be
happier with something shorter. I insisted on that one and really liked it,
until it got broken in the door of an NFB van.

After that, I progressed to a 57, 59, and then 61 inch NFB cane. That's
where I am now.

I still like the fiberglass better than carbon fiber. It just feels a
little better to me and, although it's slightly heavier, I can manage it

On occasion, depending on the circumstances, I will use an NFB telescoping
cane, but that's not often. I do take it along, as a backup, sometimes.

I think the thing that shows, very well, "Why my type of cane" is...one day,
several years ago, I was on a hike with a hiking club. I was using my cane
as we walked along a path through the woods. A man, who I never met before,
came up and started talking to my husband and me about my cane. He thought
it was interesting that I was using it to hike and commented that it was
longer than any other cane he's seen a blind person using. Then he said, "I
guess that long cane lets you know what's ahead of you sooner". Here was a
guy who knew nothing about blindness, wasn't an O&M instructor...just a guy
walking with the hiking club, and he could figure that out, just by

So, that's why I use the cane I do.

Cindy Handel Willow Street, Pa.

**2. You know, I have never really thought about canes like this. I have my preference of tips but not for echo location or anything like that. I like my cane to come up just under my chin. I prefer a folding cane and I like the roller tip because it doesn't get caught in cracks as easily.
This thought provoker has opened my eyes to the different sounds, and purposes for those sounds, of canes.


**3. This one was pretty simple: no matter what kind of tool you use, for whatever reason, you pick one that works best for you.
This is no different than a sighted person picking a car. I once knew a "large" man (not too fat, but "big-boned") who preferred large cars; not for
prestige, but personal comfort. Unfortunately, he had to drive a Toyota Camry for a short time, and I could tell he hated it! It pained me to see him squeeze
into that thing. (I wouldn't have cared, personally; I like most cars.) Finally, he bought a big Lincoln Town Car, and I could tell he was more comfortable.
So it is with this cane business. It is, essentially, a vehicle. Everyone must inevitably have his or her own preference. (And I'm surprised you didn't
throw in a mention of a "dog-only" person. But I guess that might be off-topic.)
One more thing, and raise your hand if you've had this problem: Have you ever had a style of cane that you ADORED, and it just seemed to fit you, hand-in-glove?
Then one day the thing fell apart, or you outgrew it, or whatever. So you went shopping for a new copy of your old cane, and you find that model is discontinued,
or very hard to track down! I've heard people complain that they like the traditional "rigid" kind, but they were hard to get.
Why is that? If something still works, why should it be obsolete? But then, that seems to be the case with everything you buy. They never make 'em like
they used to. Not anything.

David Lafleche

...FROM ME: This THOUGHT PROVOKER is strictly to do with canes. Dogs work too. Thanks

**4. I am not a cane user myself as I am sighted, but please don’t disregard my comments right off because of that. I am so happy this has come up as a thought
provoker. I just witnessed another example of poor travel skills among blind teens this past Friday and I was feeling hot about this all weekend. To begin,
I am the mother of a blind 16 year old, I am the President of a parent state affiliate and I work at an adjustment to blindness training center; I do regularly
witness a wide variety of cane users—as well as guide dog users. What I notice could be summed up from the afore mentioned incident I was a part of this
past weekend. I had organized a teen night and five teens came this time. They left our center to take a city bus to an ice cream parlor a few miles away
with two young adult blind mentors. Two of them only had canes at all because I told them they would not be allowed to go if they were “caneless”. Four
of the teens had the folding cane with the elastic strap, the red bottoms, and a plastic tip. One of those plastic tips was a ball the size of a ping pong
or golf ball. Two of them had length enough so the cane came up to heart height. One was sternum height and one was at about the lower end of the rib cage,
just above the waist. The fifth teen, (my son), had a long (up to his eyes) cane, made of fiberglass with a metal tip. The two mentors had this same type
of cane. When they left I lagged behind and first observed out a window from above the sidewalk where they passed. Then I followed them at least half a
block behind. Here is what I observed: Out front at a normal, even quick, pace was my son (it was dark so even if you had some vision in the day…well you
know). He tapped his cane from side to side and strode easily and confidently down the side walk. I knew from my personal experience under shades using
this cane and from years of traveling alongside him as he used this type of cane that he was getting all kinds of information from the tip and the echoes.
Two teens with the longest of the folding canes and the narrow plastic tip were trying to keep up with him. I could tell they were following and adjusting
themselves by the tap of my son’s cane and also staying near to his body so they kind of rubbed elbows. They did not tap their own canes but barely rubbed
it from side to side. I wondered how they were getting information for themselves. It seemed they were relying on my son and if it were not for him their
own pace would not have been so confident and quick. The third folding cane user lagged behind them about 20 to 40 feet. This teen was relying on a mentors
tap and conversation to adjust himself and used his cane it seemed merely to make sure there was no large object directly in front of him, he also did
not swing his cane or tap. The last teen lagging behind had the waist height cane with the large plastic tip. She actually shuffled behind with baby steps
trying hard to keep up with the group. Her cane did not even touch the ground but she held it out in front of her at a bit of an angle. I will add that
when these teens with the folding canes come and go from home or the nights activities they go sighted guide on the elbow of a parent or older sibling
or in the case of one who has a fair amount of vision, on his arm as a train with all their canes folded up and neatly tucked under their wings. Their
clipped, stubby little wings that will never allow them to fly if the parents, the O & M teachers, and their own selves continue to accept this!

Carrie Gilmer President Minnesota Parents of Blind Children

**5. I use a graphite cane.
I like it because it holds up well, and it is light there fore my shoulder
does not hurt while using it.

Corey Cook NABS NFB listserv

**6. I have been using a cane for about 25 years now, and I don't have all of the technical knowledge mentioned in this TP, but my use of a particular cane depends
on what works best for me. I get the best response from my "long crooked neck" cane as it is rigid and responds very well to conditions; however, I find
it difficult to travel with this cane and it is cumbersome in restaurants, cars, planes, etc., so I prefer to use my telescoping fiberglass cane. It is
light weight and very sensitive to conditions. I am not a "roach killer". I prefer not to tap and call attention to myself, so the lightness of the cane
is excellent for this type of travel. It has a round steel tip which I find very responsive. I am able to telescope the cane when not in use & it usually
fits very nicely my inside coat pocket or unobtrusively on the table top or chair. I believe each person should choose a cane that works best for him.
There should be no set rules-only guidelines. One blind school in Louisiana that I attended for a very short time took my cane away from me and gave me
a very long can (one as long as I was tall) and insisted that it was a better tool than I was using. I tried it for the few days I was there and got tangled
up so many times on crowded sidewalks and restaurants and stores that I begged them for my cane back, but they insisted that I stay with their cane. Their
whole program was based on the theory that their way was the only way and I was very dissatisfied, so I left the school. I strongly feel that blind rehab
people should allow a blind person to use what works best for him. They should provide input and suggestions, but let the blind person make the choice.
The blind rehab centers operated by the VA works one on one with their clients and tailors a program that works best for the blind person-no set rules.
I believe no cane is better than another-it's just that some work better for a particular individual and that should be the criteria for choosing a cane.

Jim Theall Longmont, Colorado

**7. Canes to the blind are pretty much like cars to the sighted. They all get
the job done, more or less, so it boils down to preference.
My dad drove Hudson's, so I always had a soft spot for that brand of
automobile. The big heavy pre 1950 Hudson. But my best buddy's family were
Ford people. They actually scoffed at anyone who claimed another make of
car was the equal of the mighty Ford.
And so it went. Back in the days when you could actually tell one model and
make from another. Buicks verses Nash, Pontiac or Oldsmobile, Studebaker
over Plymouth.
Of course the big difference between cars and canes is that most of us
didn't have a dad or mom who used a particular variety to set the standard.
Still, we needed some method by which to determine the "best" cane of all.
After working with more blind people than I can count, I believe the way
most of us make our choice is based on what cane was thrust into our hand
for the first time.
My O&M training, back in 1965 was with a solid Rain Shine fiberglass cane
with a metal glide tip.
Over the next 41 years I have tried just about everything that passes for a
travel cane. During college I used the flimsy rolled aluminum folding cane.
The one that twisted like a pretzel whenever anyone tripped over it.
So then I bought a Hi Core folding cane. It was like driving a truck. Big
and heavy and not easy to bend. Later I became enchanted with the hollow
core fiberglass canes, and later on, the NFB hollow graphite cane. I loved
the light weight and the sensitivity of that NFB cane. But after having
three of them shattered in less than a year I returned to my trusty old Rain
Shine, solid fiberglass cane with the metal glide tip.
It's still light enough for me, at 71 years of age and with hands that lean
toward Arthritis. Flexible yet sturdy. It holds my weight if I slip and
need to use it for a crutch. Very sensitive to the touch. Now, after about
a year of traveling together again, I can't understand why I abandoned it at

Carl Jarvis ACB-L listserv

**8. You will find that there are many style of cane as well as individual different. Each person have a cane or canes that they prefer. As I like the tip that
are rolling ball. Where you have crack and etc in sidewalk the rolling cane roll over these crack and not stay in crack and space between crack as tip
cane do.
Also I have on my cane a flashing light that I turn on at night for people to see me walking with cane. I have also reflect tape on my cane so that will
let vehicle know that I am there. We like our individual of style of canes.


**9. Sounds like the narrator of this story was using the type of cane used by my brother. He and I went out to dinner and a concert this
weekend with two sighted friends. My brother showed our friends the logo on his cane, and he explained a bit about it. He was using an NFB cane, and this
wasn't his first cane. Here again, I think personal preference is the route to go. My brother is a fast walker and is tall, so he needs a tall cane. I,
on the other hand, am rather short in stature, and I'm a somewhat slow walker although my pace has increased considerably over the years. I use one of
those canes with a glow-in-the-dark, fiberglass tip and a smooth rubber Golf Pride grip. I have often wondered what it would be like to go golfing with
my cane! Interestingly enough, two of my canes broke due to injury. Actually, the first time this happened I was getting into my O&M instructor's car and
shut the door before I got my cane out of the way. I was living in Pennsylvania at the time. As if that wasn't bad enough, a freak accident at a local
hospital caused both me and my cane harm. My mother and I had just completed some dialysis training, and we decided to take an escalator that had just
been opened the previous day. The escalator was moving very fast, and I tripped and fell on the metal treads. My cane ended up getting caught between the
treads and it snapped badly. The next thing I knew, the whole escalator had been shut down and both my cane and I were immediately removed. The cane was
no longer usable, and at the time I didn't know what to do to fix it so it was thrown away and I was taken to the emergency room. My mom and I were doing
some shopping in downtown Chicago a few weeks later, and we decided to stop into the Guild for the Blind and pick up a new cane for me. It was also a folding
cane of the same type I had used all long, and it eventually wore out. So now I am using a straight cane that my roommate gave me, and I am having very
good luck with it. I do prefer the folding canes, however, because they come in very handy when in crowds of people. My roommate now has a guide dog.

Jake Joehl

**10. I used to use a shorter cane, but I kept socking myself in the gut. A
longer cane has kept me from doing that.

Alan Wheeler Nebraska

**11. I have three canes which is funny because I am a dog user. I have an NFB telescoping cane. I like that it is light weight but it sometimes collapses on me when I slam the thing around. They are great for when you won't be doing a ton of outdoor walking or will be somewhere crowded because you can shorten the length a little. I have a folding one with a regular elongated nylon tip. This one is a bit too short and I absolutely hate the tip. I haven't seen the sucker around for a while so wonder if it disappeared. Finally the commission for the blind gave me a folding one with a nice golf type grip on it and a roller tip. This cane is great as I don't have to lift it from the ground if I don't want to. It also seems plenty s
turdy enough. I'm not sure of the brand. The California canes slim canes with the rollers look nice, but I have not owned one. I don't mind a cane but find my dog much easier.

Sarah Gales ACB-L listserv

**12. I use the roll tip canes.
They glide over grass as well as the sidewalks.
I don't scrunch myself in the middle with the rolling slide left to rite.
I also can't lift a cane well since I took a fall, so this works out grate.
I was using the roller tip before my fall.
I also use a short cane, because I want to be at the curb the same time my
cane is.
I panic out if the cane hits the curb and I have several steps to take to
get to it.

Darla NFBtalk listserv

**32. Well, Kay,
you won't get any hate mail from me. I too use an NFB telescoping cane
sometimes, though I've come to prefer a folding graphite model made by
California Canes.

Bob hachey ACB-L listserv

**14. Darla and Bob:

How prone to breaking are those California Canes? I currently
have several metal folding canes, and after time they become very
difficult to separate into a fold up position.

Thanks for any information.

Kathy Davis ACB-L listserv

**15. Hi Kathy,
Ive found the California Canes to be quite durable. They are heavier than
the NFB telescoping which is why I like to use a roller tip.

Bob Hachey

**16. I don't often pay attention to the mechanics of what cane I use, and how I
use it. I usually just go and do. However, I remember the day when I first
got an NFB cane into my hand. It was a bright summer day in Sacramento, and
I was attending my first NFB chapter meeting. I had been using a short
aluminum cane that went barely up to my armpit. A friend let me borrow a
57-inch fiberglass cane, and I was hooked from the first moment. This cane
went up to my nose, and it was light. The metal glide of the tip gave me so
much more information about the different surfaces I was traveling on. I
could tell a definite difference between the sidewalk and the street, and I
had not been able to with my nylon tipped short cane. I was walking more
confidently and swiftly, and I didn't want to give up that feeling. I got a
55-inch cane to keep after the meeting. I haven't wanted to be without a
long cane since that day in 1993. Now I use a 57-inch carbon fiber cane,
and it is great. Actually, I have about half a dozen canes in my coat
closet. Some telescope into themselves. Some fold in half, and others are
straight. This way I can pick a cane to meet my traveling needs and the
weather conditions.

Now my son Andrew is learning to use a can, and it will soon be time to
teach my daughter, Rebekah how to use a cane. Child-sized canes join the
adult canes in the coat closet as they learn how to more confidently explore
the world. They will learn from the start, the advantages of using a cane
that is long enough to tell them where they are headed.

Kasondra Payne

**17. I use an NFB carbon fiber cane because I am a weak-wristed wimp. I like the cane to be light weight. I use the traditional NFB tip because I figure the
dowel and screw inside the end of the cane give its most vulnerable part some stability but aren't enough to add a lot of weight. I also like the NFB
tip for its auditory feedback, also a good feature of the Rainshine tip.
I haven't heard any evidence that the dowel and screw really help a cane to last longer, and the things that typically happen to canes never happen close
enough to the end for the dowel to help I think a lot of it is just habit. I learned with a fiberglass cane in the 80's. When they came out with
something lighter, I adopted it. Some time I might have to look at an inexpensive cane that the Commission carries and try the Rainshine tip. I might
really like it.

Nancy Coffman Lincoln NE

**18. I'm a guide dog handler, but when I have to use a cane, witch isn't very
often, I prefer a light weight folding one with a rolling tip. I like
folding, because it's easy to keep out of the way and the rolling tip,
because I can move faster with it then I can one with the tip that you have
to tap side to side.

Cheryl ACB-L listserv

**19. Well, I dislike being confrontational, but wouldn't the world like all of us to be put in the particular box with the appropriate label?
Having said that, what a good educational opportunity to discuss the purpose of canes, their uses, their strengths and weaknesses.
And, for those of us who might be just a bit obsessive, let me say that I always have about 3 different kinds of canes.
Some days I just need one thing more than another; I usually don't have sidewalks, and when I return to the States I kind of have to re-prep myself on canes
providing echoes.

Okay, enough of the personal stuff; I thinking of students, too, as I re-read this TP. Their needs vary so greatly, and some of the readers of this list
might be amazed at how O&M people want to make them all conform to one means of doing things. As if we were suddenly to become like those drones in the
book "Wrinkle in Time."


kat Guam

**20. After my accident where I broke my shoulder, I used the NFB carbon
fiber telescoping cane for a few years, because of its lightness, but
I broke so many of them that I opted for the Ambutech folding
graphite cane. Somewhat heavier, but I mitigated that by using the roller tip.

Andy ACB-L listserv

**21. I enjoyed reading that. I work with children and since I am in a wealthy school district I can purchase all the various canes I desire. three of my students
are using fiberglass canes with metal tips and love the lightness of the canes. I find that the metal tip sticks when using touch and slide to locate
an intersecting sidewalk and this doesn't happen with the marshmallow tip on other canes. what are your thoughts?
did you write this article? You must have excellent echo location if you can pick up the up curb as you approach it when crossing the street.

Michele O&M listserv

...FROM ME- I answered her with- Michele
Yes I wrote the short story, the THOUGHT PROVOKER as I call it and it does reflect me and how I modify my cane and also the factors I pay attention to while
traveling. Have you ever visited my web site thoughtprovoker.info? It's all about blindness.

Here is one of your sentences "....I find that the metal tip sticks when using touch and slide to locate
an intersecting sidewalk and this doesn't happen with the marshmallow tip on other canes. .." And so, for me, though the metal tip may stick some, I'll
gladly put up with that in order to get the echo feedback that only the metal tips can create, which the marshmallow tips cannot.
So my gut says, and I truly do not wish to be disrespectful, but in the logic presented within that sentence, that decision, you are zeroing in on the
wrong characteristic and purpose of the cane. I find that my ears and the sounds around me tell me more then what information I gather via the touch element
of the cane; my ears reach out further than the length of my cane. (Again, speaking in generalizations) It's hearing over touch, though you need both
and are wise to use them together to be the best type of traveler. (I will seldom answer here in the forum, nor on the listservs. This is not about me.)

Michele wrote back and thanked me for my input; said she didn't get that type of discussion from the children she served.

**22. Actually, I use a telescoping cane in between dogs and they work very well.
I have several different kinds and that one is quite light and responsive.
You pull it out and twist it and it stays apart and doesn't collapse on you
and lord knows I've tried what with jamming it in to cracks and all.

Kay Malmquist ACB-L listserv

**23. Canes in a way are like people; we are all unique. I used to be a cane user, but have turned guide dog user. I still occasionally use the cane when I
have to leave my dog at home. Personally, right now I prefer using a guide dog. With my hearing loss, I do much better. Also, I don't look likke a drunk
coming down the sidewalk. I don't walk straight; in fact, I walk like a duck; no quack intended. With my dog, my balance is not off. I just put a roller
tip on my cane and it took some getting used to. First of all, my folding cane which is 10 years old felt heavier. But, that's okay. As long as I get
where I need to go. Same applies for the dog. Although, Paige (my black Lab) and I have been together 4 years. We know each other very well.

Wayne Scott

**24. This falls under "glad you asked that question." This is a time to shine and dole out some educational facts to folks that are curious.
Good one, Mac.


**25. As for Canes, I much prefer the telescoping fiberglass or even better the
telescoping carbon graphite types. I have used several other types, but I
prefer the telescoping canes because they are very light, sensitive, and
they slide together very easily to get out of the way when I am not using
it, like in a restaurant or when I am in class or in my office. The
disadvantage of it is that it is not as durable as some other types and if
you use it to steady yourself or as an aid to help you walk, it will
collapse on you. I don't need it for those purposes at this point in my
life. So, it serves my needs extremely well.

Dr. Ronald E. Milliman, Professor of Marketing, Western Kentucky University

President, South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind (SCKCB)

ACB-L listserv

**26. Why would someone choose a particular cane style?
Personal preference, most likely based on
level of confidence,
sensitivity of hearing,
knowledge of environment.

Ambient sound,
occasionally audible cane taps,
tongue clicks and
heavy use of echolocation
are vastly more preferable to
whizzing, and
excessive tapping or banging.

Mark Blier Sierra Vista, Arizona, USA
**27. I listened to the story with attention, thinking I have never been that attentive to cues as this person seemed. I can see where and why he has the cane
that he does. I always thought most people had the same type of cane but that's not true. We all have different styles of travel, and different canes.
My friend who lives in the south shore still has a hycore cane, while I have a graphite cane. She travels but I do travel more, antlike a sturdier cane.
Our canes are our eyes and can tell us where poles, buildings and trash cans are. They are our way of traveling locally, and in strange cities.

friend ship and peace Karen Crowder

**28. My fav cane is made by Ambutech/
bad spelling of the company name.
they make a nice light graphite folding cane.
after using several kinds of canes both folding and non-folding this one is
my fav.

Corey Cook ACB-L listserv

**29. I'm a dog user, so I don't know if I'm qualified to answer. I won't let
that stop me. I do use a cane when my dog isn't with me, for example, on
very rainy days, in crowded places, or whenever my dog isn't working that
day. I guess I'm too lazy to lift the cane and keep it from sticking in the
cracks. I use the marshmallow tip, except I have balance problems. If I
try to lean on the cane, it's disaster. Now I'm using the Canadian-made
light weight cane with the metal tip. The edge is rounded so it doesn't
stick, and it doesn't roll.

Abby Vincent ACB-L listserv

**30. Actually, that is a very good question and a point for the un-rehabilitated
(like my legally blind self) to learn. I don't know the answers or history
about the different types of canes and actually know very little about the
different types of tips. I've had the nylon and the rolling round tip
(probably not the correct name).

Makes one know how very little one knows about being Blind, doesn't it?
Think I'll read all the replies on this one.

Max in SC ACB-L listserv

**31. Robert,

It's because were all from a different planet.

William Benjamin ACB-L listserv

**32. It just boils down to different strokes for different folks. I like the oldstyle folding canes with three plus joints whereas my friends like the fifty
fifties and such.

Ben J. Bloomgren

**33. While I agree that the cane is a very good and practical tool for assisting blind people with navigation, and while I have seen numerous blind folks do
wonderfully with it, I don't think it is a good "symbol," to go along with the placards that our blind pride marchers are holding. I do not believe that,
as a symbol of social and personal independence, the white cane serves blind people very well at all. The whiteness of its, a reflective surface so that
blind people are easy to spot, avoid, help or be aware of, also seems to scream "I am here! I am possibly helpless, I carry a white flag of surrender!
blind person over here, beware, beware!" In our increasingly violent streets (and don't kid yourself that it's just in the cities, or that no one beats
up the blind"; maybe in the fifties it was that way, not now), the white cane, while light and easy to swing and tap and explore the surroundings, completely
monopolizes one hand which may be needed for defense, and is itself a very poor weapon, even when the folding variety is used and doubled over. The cane
is held, usually, at a down angle, its red tip at the end of the long white body touching the earth, like a ... tail. Another subconscious declamatory
statement, in my opinion. The white cane is not only a travel tool, it's an important reminder to the sighted of their "duty," to the blind, and to the
blind of their prepared place. I would redesign the cane to NOT be glaringly white and reflective, and to be sturdier, as to be practical for other purposes.
I believe that I would make it a thing of beauty, as well as a practical travel tool, and suitable for much more than just one job; and I would never design
it to be any sort of reminder to the sighted.

Mark BurningHawk

**34. I never knew different canes sounded different. I use a Marshmallow tip on a WCID folding cane. The original tip that comes with it will get caught in
cracks and I did not want to fall over my cane, so I switched to the Marshmallow in the 1990's and have been using them ever since. If someone else with
a cane were to come up to me, I could not figure out who they are by the sound of their cane. My hearing is not so good, and traffic is getting heavier
all the time. Twenty years ago, it was not so bad. Now there are cars you cannot even hear and that frightens me. I occasionally walk into a car when
it is pulled up right across where I have to cross. These drivers don't seem to care. Traffic used to be easier to deal with, and now, I'm not so sure
I can handle it. I take Paratransit where I have to go when I need to. Walking on quieter streets is still manageable for me. I've lived on streets
you could not even cross at all, the traffic just goes and goes and goes all day and all night, no lights, nothing. That's a bad place for disabled people
to live, and I also notice that they put senior housing on very busy streets. I am glad I am away from all the madness! When I first came to California
in 1980, curb cuts were alien to me. We did not have any in Chicago and I had to get used to something new right away. Now, many of the curb ramps have
yellow bumpy material. I call them polka dot curbs, because that is just what they feel like underfoot: Big, round polka dots! I love those curbs. Not
all of them have it, but quite a few in my neighborhood do. Maybe someday they will all have yellow polka dots in California. Who knows?


**35. In canes, I use a collapsible cane with a rolling ball on the end of it. Instead of tap taping, I roll the ball from side to side. My cane is also up to
my nose about 68". By rolling instead of tapping- I am never surprised by an obstacle that tapping can miss. My cane makes a definite noise but is reliable.
Collapsing it prevents having to place it on a dirty floor, etc. I think particularly for newly blind folks, a rolling cane works best, encourages movement,
and prevents accidents. I also wear a baseball hat so I don't hit my head on anything that might be in the way. I do not walk fast, as every route is a
new one. There are no sidewalks in rural areas and living in a rural area is a major obstacle to a full life for a blind person.

Now, I have a question. About 25 years ago, deafness was made obsolete by the cochlear implant. Special interest groups exist which raise awareness of issues
and funding such as cancer, sickle cell anemia, etc., but the most debilitating human disability- blindness- not a single voice says : We should eradicate
blindness, stamp out blindness, stem cell research for blindness, etc. We are like sheep without a shepherd. The major blind organizations should begin
a program to force science to put the same funds into solving blindness as in other major health issues. The NFB and ACB should redirect their efforts
into eradicating blindness in our lifetimes. In science almost all is possible including eventually transplanting eyes, etc. If science can implant a brain
device which allows a paraplegic to move his wheel chair, turn on his computer, or fetch the maid, science can eradicate blindness. What if President Kennedy
had said, "By the end of this decade, we will restore vision to the blind" and a major national effort was made to do so? In God all things are possible
and He guides scientists also. We the great silent blind movement raise not a single powerful voice to demand, yes demand, and end to blindness. As electronics
get smaller and smaller, as science enters new frontiers, let's burn the canes and demand functional eyes. Can buring party anyone?

Dr. Scott Bray

Snow-bound in the high Rockies

**36. Hi Darla Rain Shine is a solid fiberglass cane. It is a bit heavier than the
hollow canes, but it's so nicely balanced that I find it easy to handle.
And I've never had as good information from the nylon tips as I get from
that little metal glide tip.
You can reach Rain Shine by calling:

Carl Jarvis ACB-L listserv

**37. It's definitely a matter of personal preference, no doubt about it. When I started orientation and mobility in 1971, my instructor gave me an aluminum
cane about the height of my breastbone, he recommended that future canes be about that height. I have used folding canes, telescoping canes, but somehow
they didn't seem quite as durable as a straight, non-folding cane, even though they were convenient because I could fold them and store them away on planes,
in cars, at restaurants, etc. I gradually was convinced by some of my NFB friends in Connecticut to use a light, NFB cane with a metal tip, easy to replace
at any time. And that is what I use today. I forget how long I have had this particular cane now, but it is light, rigid but easy to use, and relatively
tall. It stands at the height of my neck, just under my chin. I like a somewhat longer cane because I can swing it in a wider arc, I don't have to press
my elbow into my gut while using it in order to get the information I need from a greater distance but can hold it comfortably. It being longer, but not
too long, seems to give me the right amount of reaction time between my picking up information and my responding to it. Also, I prefer a straight cane
that doesn't telescope or fold, like I said, I think they are just more durable.

Mark Tardif Cleveland, Ohio

**38. I have not known anyone that has such great hearing. Amazing. Leaves those of us without such keen hearing.
So the gentleman was curious, so what.

jack Omaha, NE

**39. After trying a couple of different canes, I found that I really prefer my fiber glass cane. This cane is long enough that it goes up to the tip of my nose.
I also like the audible feedback I get from the NFB tips. Since I walk fairly fast, I really like the extra feedback I get from this cane and use it pain
free. The first one I was given was an aluminum folding cane that came up to my chest. I didn't use this cane much because I felt I had enough vision
that I didn't need to use it. Though the cane folded and was convenient for storage, it was very cumbersome and hurt my wrist. I only used it when I
absolutely had to...that was only when my field counselor for the state services for the vision impaired was in the area.
After visiting the orientation and training center here in Lincoln back in the early 90's, I saw that the clients were given longer canes and saw the travel
instructor himself used one. After trying for the first time, I was hooked.

Bonnie Ainsworth Lincoln, NE

**40. I always have both the long fiber glass rigid cane and a carbine fiber telescoping cane on me when I go out for a serious day on the town. I use the rigid cane for the main travel tool and have my telescoping cane in my backpack; this cane is my spare and is there as a back up if and when I might have my main cane broken; it is like having a spare tire in the trunk. I also have a spare tip in reserve, too; it is more likely to lose a tip than to have a broken cane.

I remember once when I didn't carry a backpack, I didn't have a back up cane on me and I had a person trip over my rigid cane and break it. And so I found a tree and located a dead branch and found the right size in diameter twig and used it as a splint to my broken cane; the cane was a hollow tube and the twig slipped up into the shaft of the two broken pieces and so it allowed me to put these two pieces back together and go on. I'd really be up a creek if I were out some where and didn't have a useable cane. That would give me a very insecure feeling, having to grope around with my feet to inch my way along.

About having a spare tip with you….I find that I really, really depend upon the auditory feedback from the metal tip. And a couple of times in the past I lost my tip and hence lost my main echo maker. This experience convinced me that my main source of finding out what was around me was the tip, and when it is gone, it really slows me down!

Rick Lardden Kansas

**41. It really bugs me when I hear "I use the folding cane because it is easy to put away." Maybe I'm being too harsh here, but the main purpose of a cane is to manipulate it out in front of you to find out what is coming up. And not to be hidden away. Sure, the fold up types work for a travel aid, but I just think they have a tendency to not be as good of a tool as the rigid ones and I think I've met too many blind people who were either not good travelers or were the type that really didn't have a good self image of blindness and so liked to hide it when they can and they all tend to gravitate to the "hide-away" canes.
Mark Mine

**42. In my first response to this Thought Provoker I neglected to mention that I actually have two canes: one next to the front door of my apartment and one
hanging on a little hook next to the back door of my apartment. This suggestion to use two canes was made by a former life-skills tutor who worked with
me, and I think she had the right idea. I only use the backdoor cane when going downstairs to the community room which is part of my apartment complex,
and for emergencies where I would need to get out of my apartment quickly. The back door is right outside my bedroom so this works out well. The back door
cane is a folding cane with a gliding tip. When I'm in the community room I keep my cane in the corner behind the door.

Jake Joehl,

**43. I was one of those kids who wasn't told that blind girls didn't climb trees, run and skip everywhere. I didn't get cane training until college. My guide dog was injured and my rehab counselor arranged for me to get some cane instruction. To be honest, I didn't enjoy it much as I found myself pole vaulting
a lot when it got stuck. I have bent, broken and lost more canes than I can count. I carry a long light I.D. type cane that folds small for times when
I don't want to use my dog or am walking sighted guide. Using a cane then keeps the public from assuming my sexual orientation if I am walking with a
female, protects me from inattentive guides and saves time if I just want to find a restroom on a long car trip without bothering to harness up my dog.

I have a lot of different kinds of canes including a long rigid fiberglass one with a silver horse's head mounted on the handle, a long hiking staff with
the head of a llama carved on it and a ski pole for hiking. I use that one for judging the depth of a drop off my dog has shown me on the trail because
the T-shaped handle is more comfortable to brace me for extra balance. I keep a heavier folding model in the car. I guess I would say that I choose my
canes to fit the circumstances I am using them in. A long rigid one is best for long walks on city streets. A folding one is best for situations where
I am maneuvering in a crowd or social occasions. My hiking staff and ski pole work where identifying myself to oncoming traffic isn't an issue but determining
how big the drop is on the other side of a log or boulder is. I have been told I am an excellent cane user, but still prefer working dogs because I enjoy
the company and the interaction required and feel more confident with one along. I don't have to concentrate as much as I do when using a cane. Even
when I am using a conventional style cane I like to mark them with unique key chains, stickers or replace the handles with fun things to personalize them.
If a cane is part of my accessories, it should be distinctive!

DeAnna Quietwater Noriega Missouri

**44. After reading the responses, it occurred to me to mention my thoughts about
cane tips.

I have never used a "marshmallow" tip and am not even sure that I know what
one is. I have used nylon tips. But, any I've used, on either a heavier
long straight cane, or on the bottom of a folding cane, have been impossible
to remove and replace, when necessary. So, I'm not really sure what one
does when that kind of tip wares out...replace the whole cane?

For me, the feedback I receive from the tip tapping really is invaluable.
I've had several experiences where the metal has worn off the rubber on the
NFB type tip, and falls away. I'm left with the rubber on the bottom of a
cane. If I can't immediately stop to change the tip, it's definitely an
odd, somewhat disconcerting feeling to walk along with such different
feedback and feel to the bottom of the cane. No, I would never walk for a
long distance like that. But, it just makes me realize how important the
information I receive, from a good tip is in my travel.

Cindy Handel (Avid long-time cane user) Willow Street, PA

**45. I'm glad you updated this, because I want to rebut Response #33, from Mr. Mark Burninghawk. It seems to me that it shouldn't be necessary to have a negative
perception about a white cane. It serves the blind by telling you that a solid object is or is not nearby. But it also tells the sighted that a blind person
is approaching. So what? There's no shame in that. Personally, I think it's important for me to know that, if for no other reason than to avoid saying
something stupid, like, "Why don't you watch where you're going?" Thus, a cane solves a lot more problems than it is assumed to cause.
Again, this goes back to that Social Darwinist attitude that finds imperfection to be repulsive. To a decent human being, your cane is no more shameful
than my glasses. It took me a long time to admit I needed them. It took even longer to get my sister to quit bugging me about getting contact lenses. (I
hated those things!) As a mature adult, I now understand how silly and cruel that attitude is. And, if I ever needed a cane, I wouldn't be stigmatized
by it. Hey, I'm pretty sure I'll need hearing aids before long, but I wouldn't be ashamed of them, either.

David Lafleche

**46. About the color of canes: What is the reason for the red at the bottom of some white canes? Some where I recall hearing that if was for the totally blind and the all white shaft was for some one with partial vision. I also think I heard that somewhere in Europe the partially sighted are wanting to be known as a person who carries a yellow cane.

Second, I also heard once that the blind have a secret tapping thing they can do with their cane tip that will tell another blind person various short messages. Like if they are standing at a bus stop and another blind person comes tapping up, the first guy does this little tapping, tapping thing and information beyond just the noise is conveyed. Anyone heard of that?

John smith

**47. I wonder to what degree we use the phrases, "it's a matter of preference," and, "the cane you use is simply a matter of choice," to avoid difficult discussions
about our identity as blind people, or to mask real differences in philosophical approaches to blindness.
I certainly have my preference, which is for a long white straight cane with a metal gliding disk for a tip. My cane reaches the tip of my nose, and my
favorite supplier is the Iowa Department for the blind. They sell their canes for $16, ship free matter for the blind, and the canes are reasonably light,
but almost indestructible, unlike the lighter more expensive carbon fiber canes.
I think this is more than just a preference, however, as I chose this cane because it is demonstrably the best cane for my mobility needs. I am a fast
walker, who takes public transit to work every day, and lives in a crowded urban environment with four seasons worth of weather events.
I have colleagues and friends who live in similar circumstances as I do, however, and use shorter, telescoping or folding canes, sometimes with nylon or
rolling tips. They will say this is their preference, but I can't help but notice that some of them are simply unable to travel as fast and as confidently
as I am under similar circumstances. I don't think this is necessarily because I am more physically fit, a better traveler, or a better blind person in
some way. Can it be the cane, perhaps? If this is true, which I am willing to entertain it isn't, why would someone use a cane that is demonstrably inferior?

This is where we get into challenging areas of philosophy and self-image -- an area, I think, many of us would just assume avoid, out of politeness, open-mindedness,
or other perfectly noble intentions.
There was a time in my life when I used a short, folding metal cane with a red bottom and a nylon tip, and I can tell you exactly why I used it -- because
I was embarrassed to be blind, and I wanted to be able to fold away my cane and hide it, or even not use it at all (say, when I was going sighted-guide).
I deliberately hobbled myself to avoid looking blind, and in the end, only did myself harm. Can I honestly say this was my preference to use this kind
of cane? In a way it was, but it was a preference fraught with much deeper issues.
I am not saying that everyone who uses a cane different than mine is somehow denying their blindness and is doing themselves harm, but I am saying it may
be that preference, at least in some cases, certainly in mine, masks other issues.

Most sincerely,

Brian Miller Alexandria VA

**48. I compare the wide variety of styles of canes we use to the wide variety of styles of clothes or shoes people wear, or the kind or style of car drivers
drive. I used to use one of those heavy folding aluminum canes with that nylon tip, but I had to have someone change the tip for me because it required
using a vice-grip to be able to pull the tip off. That kind of cane had also become too heavy for me because of tendonitis in my wrists. Now, I use a
carbon-fiber, not only because it's lighter weight, but I can change the tip myself anywhere I am at. When I had my aluminum cane, the height was up to
my neck. My carbon-fiber, now is five feet long; I'm five/one.

Linda Minnesota