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for the Blind

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Industrial Design student need your insight!

Hi, my name is Diana, an industrial design student at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.
I am doing my senior research project on the subject of blind and visually impaired.
my goals is to observe, and collect information on this topic and find potential problems for blind and visually impaired people this semester.
In my last semester at school, I will need to come up with a design that can improve their experience in daily activities.
This is an one year long research and product development. I have went through training to be a volunteer at the Light house,
and did many interviews with people who are blind or visually impaired.
I am hoping someone can take some time doing a short e-mail interview, and give me some insight on this topic which could help me designing a better and more meaningful product at the end. I appreciate for your time. Thank you!
my e-mail address is

1. how old are you? sighted? legally bind? Occupation? can you provide a picture of you (optional)?
2. I've noticed that cane is a tool that provides mobility, safety and emotional security for a blind man, but I've also noticed that many people who are newly blind have emotional complexity toward the ID cane. Some of them believe by holding a cane, they will be labeled as handicap, or people with disability.
Can you tell me what are some emotional attachment blind and visually impaired people have toward a cane?
And can design help minimizing negative feeling people have towards cane? (example: more texture, choices on color, look more "normal"?)

3. what are some activities blind and visually impaired people find difficult to do? (example: a friend of mine expressed the frustration of doing grocery shopping, because sometimes, sale assistance will lost their patient or tell him the wrong product description)

4. What are some potential danger on the street that a blind and visually impaired person can not detect easily with his/her cane. (example: hybrid car)

5. What are some difficulties on matching clothes? I know there are different ways using safety pins, sewing labels or button on the clothes. But do a blind person ever forget about their mark? or when safety pin pop up and hurt them?

6. Any personal experience, tips or suggestion for me on this project?

7. Any one you know who might be willing to give me more information and insight? I live in Oakland, California, anyone who lives in Oakland or San Francisco who is willing to be my mentor and test some models for me? I can buy you drinks or lunch, in exchange for your stories. Thank you!!

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Re:Industrial Design student need your insight!

I admire your advocate on helping those blinds and visually impaired people on daily activities. With your research hope you come up with a Industrial Design, wish your success! use this reference I learn lot new about Industrial designing on that. Hope it help!

Re:Industrial Design student need your insight!

The AFB Directory of Services will be a useful tool in your project:

Here is a list of agencies that provide Orientation and Mobility instruction in California:

Re:Industrial Design student need your insight!

Hi, thank you for ur suggestion, I will look into the possibility of customizing your own cane, and mix and match your cane depend on your mood.

Re:Industrial Design student need your insight!

I want a cane decorated with the colts! My facorite football team!! Tried to decorate it my self but unlesss its just a sticker it henders me. As far as some to help with daily living I want a beltless sweeper so I can vacuum again!

Re:Industrial Design student need your insight!

Materials is often a matter of preference. Some people are tactile defensive, and don't like certain textures (fuzzy, squishy, etc). Other people don't care, as long as it's useful.

I believe some canes actually use recycled golf handles to cut down on costs. as well, the cane handle itself has to be durable enough to withstand weather conditions, and preferably have a flat side to lay an index finger along (although that depends on user's technique and preference).

Individual elements of the cane have to be resistant to cold, moisture, impacts, and constant wear-and-tear. As well, in Canada at least, wintertime is very cold, and the handle has to be a non-slip texture to work well with gloves/mittens.

Re:Industrial Design student need your insight!

Thank you! I will look into finding a mobility instructor. I have another question, I want to design a beautiful cane in a blind or visually impaired person's perspective. That means, it's not the color that determines the beauty of the cane, but the feel of the texture in one's hand. What are some objects that when a blind person touches he will feel beauty in his hand? (an apple? leaf? woman's body?) is it more a personal preference? Please let me know. Thank you all!!!

Re:Industrial Design student need your insight!

I am a O&M instructor, but it is much better to actually meet one and see how the cane is used. There are limitations to how much can be explained in texts only, especially with the haptic feedback of the canes.

You are from California? You should be able to find an association that can has O&M instructors. I'm from Canada, so we have a different system than in the States.

Ambutech makes good canes, those are the ones we provide up here in Canada ;)

The cane tips also work better in different situations. For example, a roller tip gives good feedback over larger areas, and is useful for constant contact techniques. So are ball tips, but the tip is much larger and round, so it doesn't get stuck in cracks. A pencil tip gives a lot of information, but has a tendency to get stuck in cracks very easily.

Re:Industrial Design student need your insight!

Hi All
Thank you for all the feedback.
I just called AmbuTech today, a cane manufacturer company.
and asked them about the limitation on the cane, and differences between the tips(he told me it's all base on personal preference" maybe someone else will be able to tell me the haptic feedback for each tip? and does anyone know a mobility instructor who might be willing to help me out with my research? Jack, it will be great if you can introduce me some friends of yours, that would be very helpful!!! Thank you all

Re:Industrial Design student need your insight!

Hi Diana! I am Jack from China. Yep. Fancy see your message here! Maybe I can help you somehow. At first, I just know you are doing a research, but I do not know what exactly it is. Well, how many cases do you want to refer to? Maybe you can refer to my classmates. 40 percent of them are totally blind. If I can do anything for you, just let me know. Jack

Re:Industrial Design student need your insight!

If you are planning on re-designing the white cane, you definitely want to talk to an Orientation and Mobility Specialist. They can explain to you how the white cane is used, the techniques, and how the equipment works. As well, you'd have to take into account the materials, cost and environment the cane would be used it.

Also, if you are going high-tech, ask them about how the high-tech canes went. Some of the designs worked well in testing, but they didn't work practically for a wide variety of reasons.

Re:Industrial Design student need your insight!

maybe I did ask too many questions...
so far, I have three concept,
redesign the white cane, design eating utensil that help people eat without using their hands or bread as a guilder.
and the third is design a clothes sorting system (maybe a hanger or some labeling devices)
do these sound like three solid concepts? or is there anything else that's more important to solve? Thank you!

Re:Industrial Design student need your insight!

Whoa You are asking too much up front. I would ask for the three things you wwould most like to have fixed and when you have decided what to work on it will be the time for dtails.
I want my little office done, Detais when you need them.

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