by Joe Cutter
cane protects and detects. It is an exploring tool. It facilitates safe
and efficient travel. Use the cane with the brain! When in doubt, check
it out! With partially sighted children, the cane "looks" down so they
can look up. It has been said that they have vision for what they can
see and the cane for what they can't. It has also been said, "Don't
put your foot where you're cane hasn't been!"
Movement and Travel Terms for Children
Cane is held directly out in front of traveller, contacting the floor,
sliding, or tapping.
Cane for Cane Walking
Cane is held in travel grip position that is developmentally appropriate
When standing still, encourage child to hold cane upright.
Down on the Ground
The cane is meant to be oriented down. It is not a pointer.
to Side, Slide It Wide
Crowded Areas, Line Walking
Also known as constant contact with the floor or ground. These are safer
techniques for beginners.
Shorten-Up Position - Grip cane further down the shaft to reduce
the length of the cane and make it more manageable for children.
Grip - For older children, cane can be held like a pencil. This
requires higher level hand functioning and is more efficient for crowded
Using the cane to touch the wall for information or line of direction.
Using the hand to get a line of direction or information. To "scan"
means to look.
of Hallway Walking
As the child learns about walls, corners, etc., he/she will naturally
move to the middle of the hall for faster, more convenient, and efficient
Placing the back to wall (or object) to get a line of direction.
There are times the child will need to change hands with the cane, for
example, to look at something, on stairs, or to cane the wall. The cane
should be held in the hand farther from wall.
When going up, think "thumb up!" When going down, hold the cane in regular
cane walking position or in the shepherd staff position.
Dip Down Clue
This is when cane drop-off occurs at stairs, curbs, etc. This enables
the child to perceive a change in depth of the ground (depth perception).
When stepping up or down on a curb, or the last step on steps, the cane
should slide side to side to protect the traveller from any object that
may be there.
General information taken from the environment and used in orientation
Auditory sense enabling traveler to recognize an opening, closure, large
objects, etc. A use of the sound space world to get a sort of figure-ground.
Long/Short Hallway Sound
Sound made by cane being tapped to determine characteristics of a space,
destination to be travelled, etc.
Using two edges that come together on the ground to get a line of direction
for travel (for example, grass and concrete for detecting intersections
at a sidewalk).
As the young child learns to keep the cane down on the ground and slide
for information, then, gradually, the cane can be tapped left and tapped
rightone step one tapcreating a low arc (inch or two off
Gradually the cane will be tapped to the opposite side of where the
traveller is stepping. The cane is tapped to right as child is stepping
Blindfold used to cover the eyes while learning the skills of blindness.
In this way, trust in the skills is developed through use of the senses
of touch and sound.
Drill for Skill: Skills to Encourage at Home and School
1. Locating Dropped Objects
Protective and searching techniques of hands and cane to locate objects
Locating objects at curbside and building side.
Identifying parallel and perpendicular traffic.
What controls an intersection (stop sign, traffic guard, light, one
Going around the block, four corners, etc.
Learning about north, south, east, and west, using a compass, sun location,
street references, etc.
Place a high value on exploring the environment in ways that will enable
the child to discover information and the relationships between objects,
places, and him/herself.
The child will learn about the school environment as children with sight
learn: through discovery, exploring, practice, and age-appropriate experiences.
The list below includes some of the skill areas to keep in mind.
time, recess, etc.
and play equipment
through doors, managing the cane, holding the door for others, etc.
the bathroom and age-appropriate bathroom skills
drill independence and safety procedures
messages to the office, other classrooms, etc.
in pairs, in groups, and independently, to destinations in the school
and from the school bus, steps on bus, taking a seat, managing the cane,
emergency routine on the bus (evacuation procedure)
a seat in the auditorium, walking up and down the aisle, on the stage,
other child who needs to learn these tasks, the blind child needs experience
and practice, particularly on the skills of blindness that will enable
the child to perform these tasks. (Blindness is the reason to learn
these skills.*) Common sense and the alternative techniques of blindness
will help to ensure that the blind child will be a full participant
blind child with multiple disabilities who may not be able to do some
skills in an age-appropriate manner, consider their developmental age.
They should be doing the skills appropriate to that level independently.
The blind child with additional disabilities is even more vulnerable
than the blind child who develops typically because others tend to do
more for them than they should. These children are then prevented from
learning tasks they could learn to do for themselves.
is never an excuse to not learn these skills.
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