Mobility Canes: The Definitive Guide

You may have seen people walking with a variety of different canes, but have you ever wondered why there are so many variations? Or perhaps you’re wondering which cane you should consider enquiring about? Look no further! We’re about to go through the various canes and explain their significance.

Man walking down a road with a cane with a support worker

Canes are a form of mobility aid which help aid visually impaired pedestrians get about their daily business. We’ll start off small and work our way up.

Symbol Canes

First up we have the Symbol Cane. These canes are smaller than other types of mobility cane, and are used to notify the general public that the person has a visual impairment. Since it is so small, it offers no protection from your environment around you and will usually be used if the person has a lot of residual vision left.

Guide Canes

Next is the Guide Cane. These are longer than a symbol cane and are used for basic protection, they will hit objects in your environment before you do! They do require training to be effectively used when out and about.

Long Canes

The Long Cane, as the name suggests, is the longest cane currently. It is used to test the environment around you if you have limited or no vision. The way this one differs from the Guide Cane is that a long cane’s end had a tip of some kind.

There are two different types of tips; rolling tips and pointed tips. Rolling tips are best for smooth pavements and offer the largest amount of protection as they never leave the ground. This can lead to their downfall however; if they get trapped by uneven ground or other objects such as bikes then they can jar your arm and impact your stomach. These are either cricket ball shaped, or more cylindrical. Hard tips are best for rough pavements, as these are used when tapping the ground as opposed to rolling across it.

Red Striped Canes

If there is ever a cane which has red stripes on it, then this signifies that the person also has a hearing impairment as well as a visual impairment, this can be on any of the canes mentioned in this blog post.

Support Canes

Finally, we have White Support Canes. These are prescribed by an Occupational Therapist and are measured so that the right length is prescribed for the physical impairment. If you have sight impairment also then the cane will be white and if it has red stripes then the person will have a hearing impairment also.

Watch these videos to hear more explanation on canes as Mark is joined by Simon Merrill, a rehabilitation officer and white cane user himself.

If you would like more information on this topic or a range of other issues, then stop by our Knowledge Village to find out more at:

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James is a volunteer with the Marketing team in Manchester and has retinitis pigmentosa. He is a recent graduate of York St John University, where he studied Youth and Community work. He enjoys sci-fi and fantasy such as Star Wars or Game of Thrones, as well as sport and travelling (he may or may not also be a pro at Mario Kart).
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