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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

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Traveling with Your Cane in Winter Weather

Mittens keep your hands warmer than gloves. Adapt your mittens for holding a cane by cutting a hole at the tip, inserting the cane into the hole, and putting your hand in the mitten to hold the cane.

Winter-weather white cane travel is often more time consuming, more physically and mentally tiring, and possibly more fraught with danger than traveling in good weather. The cold often brings personal discomfort, making it difficult to concentrate and learn during travel or mobility lessons. Your toes, fingers, and ears are particularly at risk. To protect your extremities, it is necessary to plan one's clothing and equipment well beforehand. Here are a few helpful suggestions:

  • Find good winter boots with soles that provide good traction on slippery surfaces. The soles should not be too thick, or else one loses vital information from the ground surface. It's also very important that the boots that fit properly.
  • Consider using Yaktrax, traction devices that you put on the bottom of your shoes or boots, that grip the snow/ice and make walking easier and less slippery.
  • Mittens keep hands warmer than gloves, but provide less information to the cane traveler. Mittens can be adapted, however.
  • Knitted mittens are better than mittens made of thick material. Knitted gloves are warm and do not block out as much information. However, knitted mittens may fray if you cut a hole in the tip as suggested above.
  • To adapt gloves: cut off the index finger or cut off the outer layer of glove, but keep the lining. This should give much better information to the index finger. You may also consider looking at hunting gloves and mittens in a sporting goods store. Different styles are available for keeping the index finger free and/or mittens that have removable tops that velcro or hook to the mitten when not in use.
  • One other choice is "Mobility Mittens," available from the Maryland School for the Blind for about $5-$6 dollars each (410-444-5000). They cover both the cane and the person's hand (no separate slot for the thumb) with cuffed openings for both the hand and the cane.
  • If the wind is a major problem, sew or knit a tube into which the hand can lie protected from the wind, but still in direct contact with the cane.
  • It is extremely important to be visible to drivers during dark winter months. Use a reflector which hangs from the side of the coat. Also, wear bright colors to stand out against the snow.
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This tip is brought to you by Bosma Enterprises, AFB Senior Site's Agency of the Month.

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