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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

White cane and other assistance

Hello! I'm an 18 year old (as of this coming Tuesday) male in Virginia with low vision. Uncorrected my vision meets the definition of legal blindness, but corrected it's 20:70 in the left eye and 20:100 in the right. I'm unable to drive, so I rely on my parents for getting around. When I'm out, I can't see signs, curbs, etc. I'd like to know if I qualify for a white cane. If so, should I get one and what type? Also, what other kinds of assentive devices are out there? I'm registered with the DBVI, but they're of little to no help. Any advice or assistance you can give me would be great!

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Re:White cane and other assistance

Ambutech (cane company out of Canada)
Maxiaids (a company that sell all kinds of things)
NFB (offers the long NFB cane for free off their website - different type of cane)

You need to know the length of the cane, type of tip and such. How many sections if you are looking at folding cane, and the material it is made out of.

So, usually they perscribed by an O&M instructor, but once you know the size and such, you can experiment what type works or feels best.
If he is not trained to use a cane, he should contact your local rehab agency to get some lessons and it fit to his size. There is a directory of services on

Hope that helps!

Joe S.
AFB Staff

Re:White cane and other assistance

Abledata is a Govt. supported database of assistive techno;ogy (AT), including vision impairment in all degrees. Here you will find descriptions and information about things like magnifiers (glass and electronic), and systems that turn print to speech and files to speech. There are some user reviews (the sight impaired are behind here) and a classified section for used AT.

AFB's Technology Talk message board has a lot about new and old AT.

Re:White cane and other assistance

to whom it my fall upon can you please tell me were i find the long white cain as husband is blind and needs one bad darlean from utah

Re:White cane and other assistance

Hi there!

I was in a similar situation to yours, but a few years later in life. I have low vision (20/50) with both eyes open, but lack depth perception (because I see 20/50 out of my left eye and 20/70 out of my right). I found that I was tripping, stumbling, and bumping into everything. Finally, I decided to get some help. I called our local BVS office and started with them within a couple of days. After my initial interview, I started Orientation & Mobility training soon after.

The long cane is a great benefit, even if your corrected vision does not meet the definition of "legal blindness". People are so much more willing and able to help when you ask a vision-related question when they see the cane than if you ask them and don't have one. As far as getting the O&M instruction, if your state agency will not provide it for you, try looking for private instructors as some professionals provide privately contracted services, rather than through an agency.

As far as technology is concerned, you should check with your state agency to see if they can connect you with a Rehabilitation Teacher (RT) who can assist you in acquiring the necessary assistive technology devices that will enable you to carry out daily tasks. I have a library of technology and each piece has its purpose and I don't know what I would do without all that I have.

If you would like to talk further, please feel free to send me an e-mail: I would be happy to help in any way I can as I have seen what a long white cane and the right assistive technology can do to improve life.


Re:White cane and other assistance

The cane has many purposes: identification, mobility (traveling), and protection. Just because you are not legally blind (the definition says that your vision has to be corrected) does not mean you can not use a cane. A cane can be beneficial for finding drop offs (like curbs and holes and stuff), sign posts, and other obstacles. You can get cane, but you should contact Call DBVI Toll Free (Within Virginia) - 1-800-622-2155, Department Blind and Vision Impaired in Virginia. They are blind services in your state.

Have you seen a low vision specialist? A monocular/telescope would help you read signs, possibly. This should be given to you by a doctor or specialist, it needs to be the right strength and such for your needs. Plus, these do not help everyone.

There are a lot of great tools out there to learn about. It is tough sometimes because your vision is kind of in between legal blindness and have really good functional vision. I have been there years ago. You should take a look at what is available on such sites as or independent living aids website. But, you should not pick your own cane, it needs to be the proper length for your height and pace.

Good luck and I hope this helped a bit.

Joe S.
AFB Staff

Re:White cane and other assistance

hey there!! were like the exact same! im also 18 and best corrected in my right eye is 20/70 but my left eye is just toast now, all i have is light perception after a total of 6 surgies on that eye in the past year due to i was born with ROP. i do use a white identification cane, actually just started learning and it does help, especially outside with curbs and sidewalks and stuff like that. i got mine through Orientation and Mobility at my high school. hope this helps a little :)
would love to hear back from you
have a great day

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