What do the different white canes mean?

White canes are an invaluable tool for people with sight loss. In this first video on canes Mark talks to Simon about what different canes exist and what they are intended to communicate.


In this video, Simon Merrills, a rehabilitation officer for Henshaws, a support organisation for people with sight loss and disabilities, discusses different types of white canes used by individuals with visual and hearing impairments. Simon himself is registered blind due to iritis uveitis, which developed from juvenile arthritis in his childhood.

Simon introduces the first cane, the “symbol cane,” a small cane used to indicate to others that the user has visual difficulties and needs assistance. It is handy for navigating shops and crowded areas without bumping into others.

The second type of cane is the “guide cane,” which is longer and thicker than the symbol cane. It helps individuals with visual impairments move around and explore their surroundings, such as identifying bus steps, wheelie bins, or objects in their path.

Next, Simon presents his own long cane, a “true mobility aid” used for finding objects and avoiding obstacles while moving independently. Using a long cane typically involves undergoing a training program.

Simon then introduces two unique canes with red stripes in addition to white. These signify that the person using them might have both visual and hearing impairments, indicating the importance of recognizing multiple disabilities.

Lastly, Simon talks about the “white support cane,” a prescribed cane that helps with physical mobility. If someone has both a visual and hearing impairment, they may be given a white support cane with red stripes to indicate their conditions.

Simon shares an interesting historical fact that the white cane was invented in 1921 by James Biggs from Bristol, who lost his sight in an accident.

The video aims to raise awareness and knowledge about the various types of white canes and their meanings, encouraging understanding and support for individuals with visual and hearing impairments. Simon mentions that another video will demonstrate how to use the cane kit effectively.

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