Color Me Fabulous?
Are we ready to throw out the white cane in favor of designer colors?
I started this cane journey about ten years ago. I could hardly accept the fact I needed a cane let alone try to figure out if I wanted any specific color. I didn’t even know I had a choice. I remember feeling like a fire truck walking down the street — the small red section blared my presence to everyone, so I thought. But now ten years into my sight journey, I’m not quite so sensitive. I think I’m ready to join the debate. Certainly it isn’t an all-or-nothing. But can we stretch–like the elastic holding our canes together–to consider changing the color of our canes?
Looking to Personalize, Baby!
The talk about town is how cool colored canes are. Lots of cane users think If they have to use one, it may as well be a fun one geared toward their own personal taste–or used to coordinate fashion-wise. As long as it has reflective tape to show drivers or passer-byres, why not? There’s a new market out there and it’s not only for the young.
Colors and Modernization
Colors have changed everyday objects over the course of a generation or two. Look at the TV when it first came out: black and white. Phones; black and white. Now all kinds of snazzy colors … and shapes, I might add. Look at tennis balls. first, only an off-white then a dull green. Now they’re found in neon–orange, yellow and green. Probably others but I haven’t researched it.
So why not add color to white canes?
Traditional Red and White is ‘Safer’
I’ve heard quite a bit from the traditional camp that it’s hard enough for cane users to alert others as to what the cane means, let alone new and inconsistent colors. They believe the non-traditional colors will only confuse people and create dangerous situations for cane users.
They might argue, for example, that police cars have traditionally been black and white with a red light on top. Those colors are not going anywhere and neither are they in for any big change–although a few select cities may have modified the look and design of their cars. Traffic Lights remain three basic colors: red, yellow and green. It they suddenly changed, there would be confusion in the streets!
Is Communication the Key?
Who would get the word out to legitimize the various colors and ensure they’re treated as ‘the real deal’ and not just a fashion craze? Would it take one of the bigger organizations like the Foundation for Fighting Blindness, or perhaps an international organization? Would Ambutech lead the way? Maybe it will just happen gradually with pockets of cane users sporting their colored canes?
Does it come down to stylin’? Are cane users who prefer new modern colors innovative, and forward-thinking? Do they have canes for different situations–like a wardrobe change. Just stylin,’ they say. In the picture below, fashionista Steph McCoy is showing off her colored cane.
For Kids Upward
‘Owning’ a Cane Is Where It’s At!
I interviewed my friend, Shelley, who is an orientation and mobility instructor. Her opinion on the issue is “Yep, go ahead. Change the color if you want to.” She has a pink cane. Shelley explains, “I work with some kids at a camp. We put all kinds of stickers on their canes to personalize them–Star Wars, flowers, spiders, cartoon characters.”
“It doesn’t matter, as long at that child is feeling ownership to that cane. Go for it! We add on reflective strips for safety.”
My Own Decision
I’m pretty sure my future holds a neon pink cane. Whether it’s a question of stylin’ or owning, or personalizing a cane, if it means latching onto something that will make it more acceptable or comforting to a cane user, then that’s what’s counts. They’ll use it. I don’t think I’m a traditionalist but certainly not a real fashionista or trend setter either, although I love the idea of matching it to my wardrobe. It would be easier if I had a real fashion sense to match it to! I guess I’m a “middle-of-the-way” in my opinion on this issue. So I would get a cool single colored cane and use it once in awhile.
Another Take on the Issue
In closing, I have a question for you, depending on if you’re sighted or a cane user:
As a motorist, do you think you would be more likely to yield right of way if you saw someone using a white cane … or not?
If you’re a cane user, do you tend to be more traditional, middle of the road or liberal and why?
You have just read “Personalized Colors or Traditional Cane” © Amy L. Bovaird. October 10, 2017. Please take a moment to answer the question in the Comments below.