Why do people with sight loss use white sticks ?

I don’t know about you but I have always taken it for granted that blind people used white sticks?.

This doctrine actually comes from my childhood.

So where did the white stick originate and why do people with sight loss use white sticks ?

And is it only totally Blind people who use one ?

This “traditional” white cane, also known as a “Hoover” or a “long cane” named  after Dr. Richard Hoover, is designed mainly  as a mobility tool to detect objects in the path of a user. Cane length depends upon the height of the user, and traditionally extends from the sternum to the floor.

  •  A Guide Cane is a shorter cane – generally extending from the floor to the  waist it is used to scan for kerbs and steps. The guide cane can also be used diagonally across the body for protection, warning the user of obstacles immediately ahead.
  • Identification Cane /Symbol Cane  is used primarily to alert others as to the bearer’s visual impairment. It is often lighter and shorter than the long cane, and has no use as a mobility tool. This is so useful to me to know as I have seen a woman in my town use a cane this way and not known why.
  • Support Cane: The white support cane is designed to offer physical stability to a visually impaired user.It also  works as a means of identification, however, has very limited potential as a mobility device.

This was a short but hopefully informative article. I certainly learnt something.


Award-winning blogger and care columnist for Devon Life magazine, Caron also campaigns for recognition of the needs elderly people and their carers. Designer and creator of the award-winning Dementia Assistance Cards which are free to all, and helping thousands of people globally Caron is passionate and committed to making a difference

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