Guest Author - Carla Ruschival
Blind people have used canes for hundreds of years to help them get from place to place. But the white cane was not used until 1921 when a photographer, blinded by an accident in Bristol, England, painted his cane white so it could be better seen as he walked around his community.
For many years, the long straight white cane has been associated with the blind. These canes were sometimes made of wood or aluminum. Fiberglass was also used for these canes in more recent times.
A telescoping cane was also popular at one time. The cane had several sections which could be pushed, or telescoped, into the handle of the cane. It was convenient because it could be put into a purse or pocket when not in use, but it wasn't very durable.
Today, the folding cane is becoming more and more popular. These canes have 4 to 7 tubular sections connected by an elastic band. They are lightweight, yet far more durable than the telescoping cane. These canes can be quickly folded down and stored under a seat, in a pocket or purse, in an airline seat pocket, or in a backpack.
Modern canes are made from aluminum, graphite (carbon fiber), or fiberglass. Graphite canes are extremely light, yet they are very, very strong. These canes do not bend easily; they will, however, break if placed under extreme pressure.
Graphite canes are available in folding, telescoping, and straight varieties, and all are more durable than aluminum canes.. I personally have used the same graphite cane, with a roller tip, for nearly three years; I typically replace an aluminum folding cane about twice a year.
A new "glow-in-the-dark" cane is a recent addition to the growing number of canes on the market. A carbon-fiber cane with a special covering, this cane emits a soft greenish light for up to two hours, making it easier for motorists to see pedestrians in the dark.
Also relatively new are the slim "I.D." canes, intended to be used by visually impaired people who just need to let others know they have a vision problem. Many blind people are also using these canes, especially when they are fitted with larger roller or marshmallow tips to prevent them from becoming caught in cracks and crevices.
For more information on choosing a cane, go to:
Choosing a Cane
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