THE WHITE CANE
J. Michael Jones
The White Cane has long been the symbol of blindness. From ancient times to the present people with failing vision have used a cane to help them travel.
The White Cane was instituted during World War II when many veterans lost their sight in combat. Shortly thereafter the National Federation of the Blind took the use of the White Cane to a new level of efficiency and dignity. Blind Federation members created more efficient practices in the use of the cane. The Federation proved that a White Cane that was as long as from a persons mouth to the floor would provide a person with greater walking speed, and quicker object detection. This method proved to be superior to that of the traditional method suggested by those who were sighted. Further, the Federation strayed away from the traditional red and white colors and began using canes that were stylishly designed. These changes, the increased length and modern designs, helped to create a symbol of dignity and competence.
Any person can use a White Cane, from age one and up it is better to have training, preferably from a blind person who is a competent cane traveler. However, no one should be hesitant about taking a cane and beginning to experiment with moving about the home, work, school and other familiar environments.
The cane should always be in a persons hand. Whether walking alone or not, the more the cane is in a persons hand the more comfortable and confident they become. The White Cane can be a life changing tool. To someone who has no vision, or low vision, the cane is a tool for independence and dignity. Simply place your hand in the center of your body just above your belt with the cane fully extended in front of you and sweep the cane from left to right in an arch the with of your body and get moving!
The National Federation of the Blind of Alabama has a Free Canes for Children program in which children of ages 1 to 18 who live in Alabama can receive a free cane, and a replacement cane as they grow. This program is funded by the hard work of NFB of Alabama members and by generous donations from the public.
Please complete the following form to receive a cane for your child through the White Canes for Children Program.
White Canes for Children Application Form