Distinguishing Between Canes

Shedding Light on Cane Travel  

(As in “I CAN(E) Travel Too)

VisionAware  via Wikipedia
VisionAware via Wikipedia

Yesterday when I was looking for pictures of various types of canes, I found this detailed and very helpful article posted in our very own VisionAware. This is a website with resources for thsoe living independently with vision loss.

Today’s topic shows the long and short canes I talked about in my previous post and introduces other canes as well. In fact, it also brings up cane tips, The various cane tips remind me of accessories to a car because they come in so many variations. It’s almost as if the cane tips are tiny wheels that guide the cane, which serves to transport me … almost like a manual car. I kind of like to think of it in that way. (I still have my driver’s license, too!).

With the pictures above, it’s easier to see what the cane tips are like. The VisionAware article also points out the pros and cons of various tips.

What kind of canes should I use? Take a LOOK.

Now that you know a little bit about canes and their accessories, I’d like to share an excerpt from Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith. I was sitting in my living room with Bob, learning about canes for the first time.


Bob rummaged through his bag and extracted a folded cane, then slid his hand down the length of that section. “Yes, this is the one.” He seemed to be feeling for something else. “This cane has a marshmallow tip. That’s because it’s small and shaped like a marshmallow. Here, feel it.”

I tentatively reached out and slid my fingers over the smooth white tip.

He poked around again, his fingers feeling for a specific texture. In spite of myself, I was intrigued. He withdrew another cane. “Now this one has a more rounded tip. It’s called a gliding hook tip.” He held out the bottom to me. “Feel the difference?”


He took out another. “This one has a pencil tip. Feel how long and narrow it is.” He surfaced again with yet another cane and tip. “This particular one comes with a roller ball tip. It’s perfectly round. See how smooth that is. It just rolls down the sidewalk.”

I noticed his voice took on that admiring tone sports car aficionados use as they describe the attributes of a 1965 Corvette. They rattle off any number of details about it. I almost asked how much mileage he thought this particular cane would get.

He explained how each cane was divided into four sections. “See this?” He stretched an elastic cord outside the red casing. “This enables the user to fold the cane up into neat sections. Isn’t that nifty?” Bob’s eyes sparkled.

For a moment, I softened toward him.

Bob, the Cane Man.

“…So don’t worry so much about blindness. Don’t let your sight or lack thereof define you. It’s only one of many characteristics that make you who you are.”

The good feelings I had toward Bob vanished when I heard that one word—blindness.


 Finally, I’d like to share this brief youtube clip which explains how to use a cane issued from the NFB (National Federation of the Blind).The speaker talks rather quietly so you’ll have to listen to catch what she’s saying.

Which canes were new to you? Could you see the analogy between the different types and parts to a cane and the different types and parts to a car? What did you like the most about the cane demonstration? 

You have just read, “Distinguishing Between Canes” by Amy L. Bovaird. Copyright October 25, 2015.


Distinguishing Between Canes
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3 thoughts on “Distinguishing Between Canes

  • October 26, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    I’ve noticed different canes before, but never really thought how long the owner had spent choosing them, and each cane had a different job.

  • October 26, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    Hi Nick,
    That’s good you noticed them! I like how you put that — that each cane has a different job!
    Thanks for your comment!

  • October 26, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    We are so lucky to live in our respective countries. Many vision or physically impaired people don’t have so much choice. Nether did the folks of old. They had to make do with what they could find.
    I’m thankful that I can hold my rollator and walk among other people. Nobody turns to stare. Some even make way for me. I guess you find that too.

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