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 former care columnist for Devon Life magazine. I am passionate about helping elderly people and people with dementia live purposeful and independent lives.
Designer of the Dementia Assistance Card and Points Of Light award recipient, Caron hopes to help carers when resources are limited and demand is ever-increasing. I am here to support you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.