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Bridges Blog Independent Living Resources Series: Orientation October

Orientation October: How to Get a Cane, Different Types of Canes, and Your Rights as a White Cane User

What Type of Cane Should I Buy?

White cane users all have their individual preferences on what makes the most useful white cane. Here are some valuable questions to consider as you evaluate the type of cane you want to use:

  •  How heavy do I want my cane to be? — Some prefer a heavier cane made out of aluminum or graphite, and others prefer lightweight cane made out of carbon fiber or fiberglass.
  • What material of cane tip do I want to use? — Some users say that a metal tip gives the most tactile feedback, while other users say that a marshmallow or pencil tip glides more easily over surfaces.
  • How tall should my cane be? — Some cane users feel that a cane that goes up to their sternum works for them, and others feel unsafe unless they use a cane that goes up to their forehead. As you consider this question, it also may be helpful to consider how fast you walk. Some cane users claim that they can jog with a longer cane because they have more advanced notice of the objects in their path.

It takes some time to figure out what type of cane you prefer, and we encourage you to explore all possible avenues before you settle on the cane type that works best for you. At the Bridges Helpdesk, we are always happy to discuss your options with you. Many cane users own multiple types of canes for different types of travel, and that just means more tools in the toolbox. Here are some examples:

  •  Some individuals carry a straight, non-collapsible cane for regular use, but carry a folding or telescoping cane with them in their purse or backpack in case something happens to their straight cane while they are traveling.
  • Some cane users have a shorter cane for daily use, but a longer cane for long walks or jogs.
  • Some cane users have lightweight canes for regular travel, but have heavier canes for hikes to assist with durability.

How Do I Purchase a Cane?

You can purchase a cane through a variety of places:

Free White Cane Program

If you have never used a white cane before, or you just want to try out NFB’s model of cane, you can order a free white cane from the NFB every six months with no charges. This cane is a straight fiberglass cane with a metal tip. If you want to look into other types of canes through NFB, those are not part of the white cane program but can be purchased at the Independence Market link indicated above.

Get your free white cane by filling out the Free NFB White Cane form.

Contact Us

Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:

This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

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