Types of Visual Impairment
First off, let’s explore the varying degrees of visual impairment. Visual impairment usually means that both eyes are experiencing a significant loss of vision that cannot be fixed with glasses. The two main categories of visual impairment are:
Low Vision – These people are partially sighted, which means they can see to varying degrees but have a visual acuity of 20/70 or poorer. Experiencing low vision to the point that it interferes with your daily life can be incredibly frustrating. People with low vision may require special equipment and/or modifications.
Most people described as “legally blind” have some vision, but are experiencing enough vision loss that they are entitled to government or private agency service. Their vision is usually around 20/200 or less. The degrees of visual impairment are:
- Moderate Visual Impairment: 20/70 to 20/160
- Severe Visual Impairment (Legally Blind): 20/200 to 20/400
- Profound Visual Impairment (Legally Blind): 20/500 to 20/1000
Those with profound visual impairment are often able to perceive the difference between light and dark, or daylight and night time. Some of these people can recognize forms or where the light is coming from, which allows them a bit more flexibility than those who are totally blind.
Total Blindness – These people have no light perception and are unable to see forms. Around 85% of people with eye disorders have some remaining sight, while only 15% of them are totally blind. Being totally blind is the most difficult visual impairment to live with, but also the rarest.
Types of Canes for the Blind
There are three main types of canes for the blind: mobility, identity, and support canes.
Mobility canes are the most widely used and come in both solid and foldable designs. They are primarily used to detect obstacles and guide the user while walking.
Identity canes are particularly useful for those with low vision who can still see in some situations. They are typically smaller in diameter, often brightly coloured or have identifying symbols, indicating the user’s visual impairment.
Support canes are sturdy walking canes with substantial handles meant to support your weight that provide additional support and stability for those with more significant mobility issues.
Understanding the differences between these types of canes can help visually impaired individuals choose the one that best suits their needs.
Types of Tips for Your Blind Cane
Canes can also have different tips, each designed to help users in different environments. Some types of white cane tips include pencil, roller, marshmallow, and metal glide.
The cane tip is an essential part of your mobility aid, allowing you to navigate different terrains and perform various movements. You can choose from a range of tips depending on your needs and preferences. For instance:
The pencil tip is thin, light, and provides detailed feedback, but it may get stuck in sidewalk cracks.
The roller tip is heavier and rolls smoothly over surfaces, providing less detailed feedback but reducing the risk of getting stuck.
The marshmallow tip is thicker and heavier, providing less sensitivity but rarely getting stuck.
The metal glide tip is smooth and lightweight, making it easy to move across different surfaces.
“While I’ve had to face some challenges in life due to my blindness and hearing impairment, I’ve also been very blessed in many ways. I have a loving husband, supportive family and great friends.”
Bernadette Bannisters, Positive Living Blog
How to Choose a Cane
Choosing the right cane is crucial for anyone with visual impairment. It’s essential to consider factors like the individual’s level of vision, mobility needs, and the environment in which the cane will be used. Canes should be adjusted to the user’s height, and the handle should be comfortable to grip.
For more information on how to choose the correct length of cane, read our other blog post here.
Tips for Caring for Your Cane
Taking care of your cane is also important to ensure it lasts as long as possible.
Here are some tips for caring for your cane:
- Be sure to carry a spare tip with you, as they can wear out quickly and become lost.
- Keep your cane clean and free of debris to ensure optimal performance.
- Consider adding reflective tape to your cane, especially if you are walking around at night. This will help others see you and avoid any accidents.
- You may also want to add a unique mark to your cane, such as your name in braille or another identifier, to help you quickly and easily identify your own cane.
- Finally, it’s always a good idea to have a backup cane on hand in case your primary cane is lost or unexpectedly damaged.
We’ve all been there and understand that canes do wear and tear and some of you would prefer using an electronic or smart cane, so we recommend that you read further down a little.
BAWA Cane is the Clip-on Device for White Canes
The BAWA cane is a clip-on device that turns any white cane into a smart cane, providing an added layer of safety and functionality. With features like obstacle detection, fall detection, and GPS tracking (via BAWA Cane app), it’s an excellent investment for anyone with a white cane.
More information about BAWA Cane here.
In conclusion, canes are a vital tool for people with visual impairment, and there are many different types and tips available to meet specific needs. By choosing the right cane and taking good care of it, individuals with visual impairment can gain greater independence and confidence in navigating their surroundings. And for those worried about wear and tear, consider investing in a BAWA Cane to take your cane usage to the next level.
Till next time.
As someone who is visually impaired, I found your article to be invaluable. Your explanation of the different types of canes and their features was particularly helpful. I appreciate your dedication to educating and informing others on this important topic.