[nabs-l] Cane Travel Training: Report Number 1

Rania raniaismail04 at gmail.com
Wed Jun 10 11:40:47 UTC 2009

That's wonderful that you just got out there and started using. I am also 
glad to here that you felt confedent in your self.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jim Reed" <jim275_2 at yahoo.com>
To: "MAB List" <mt-blind at nfbnet.org>; "NABS mail list" <nabs-l at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 4:00 AM
Subject: [nabs-l] Cane Travel Training: Report Number 1

Hey all,

I just got through my first cane travel lesson, and I had the worst O/M 
instructor ever, me! You see, the VR O/M instructor came to my house today, 
we talked for an hour, she gave me the cane and left. She told me I might be 
able to get one lesson before the end of June. And she also told me not to 
use the cane until I had a training session. I'm sorry, but you dont give me 
a new tool or toy and tell me not to uae or play with it. Of course I took 
the cane for a spin. It is a 64 inch ambutech folding aluminum cane, with a 
roller tip. To test for length, I did the test suggested by the author of 
"Care and Feeding of the Long White Cane": I took my cane, swinging it as I 
normaly would, walking at a speed I normally would, and I walked straight 
towards a wall. The idea is to stop as soon as your cane hits the walll, and 
then walk to the wall. Apparantly, if the cane is the right length, you 
should be able to take two full steps after your cane detects
 an obstacle, without having your face or shin detect the obastacle. I was 
able to manage maybe 1/2 to 3/4 of a step between the cane recognizing the 
wall and me running into it. I dont have the time or patience to half-ass 
anything, I need a longer cane.

My first impression of the cane: Ouch! Damn it my wrist hurts. I have long 
legs and I walk fast. I tried maintaining the "step left- swing right, step 
right-swing lef"t rythm, but fairly quickly my wrist got tired and my cane 
swings became less frequent, thus less effective. Additionally, I developed 
a "hot spot" on my palm; I know from plenty of hiking experience that "hot 
spots" turn to blisters very quickly.

I walked 11 blocks total, to the gym and back; some blocks had minimal 
street light, some blocks had no light (I am totally nigh blind). I felt 
confident and I walked fast. In between corners, the cane travel was easy 
(althoug I did noit run into any obstacles on the sidewaljk). The travel may 
have been a bit too easy, as I allowed my cane to lead the way and my 
thoughts to follow and wander (much as thoughts should wander on a pointless 
midnight walk). Anyhow, I very shortly lost track of what block I was on, 
however I brought a flashlight with me, so I was able to easily figure out 
where I was. Additionally, I missed 80% of the downsteps on curbs that I was 
not able to first detect visually. That little 4 inch drop just wasnt enough 
for me and my cane to regiser that the curb was there.

Despite my newness to the cane, I felt myself being able to "stride out", 
and it felt good to do so. I am not sure how much time the cane knocked off 
my travel time, but what it did do was allow me to feel more safe and 
confident traveling at night. Dispite the fact that I dislike walking as a 
form of travel, I intend
to make regular night walks a part of my routine. Hop[efully, if I walk
enough blocks, I will run into situations that will test and expand my

I did notice that I felt much more comfortable and confident "shorelining" 
along the non-curb side of the sidewalk. I lost confidence when I felt 
myself nearing the curb, and I also lost confidence when I was on an angled 
slope, such as a driveway. Oddlty enough, I instinctivly found myself 
following my cane: if my cane dropped off the edge of the curb and rode 
along the street for a while, I found myself angling towards the street, 
even though I knew I did not want to go that way, and I knew there was a 
rolled ankle in my future if I continued that way.

Oh, byu the way, I've used my cane on only one trip, and I damn near broke 
the thing. The tip got caught in what I believe was a chain link fence, and 
all of a sudden the cane sounder different. Fortunatly, the tip of the cane 
had its own folding joint, and apparantly the fence provided enough pressure 
on the joint to remove the tip from its normal position. The internal cord 
held, and the tip retuned to its normal position, but I have the feeling 
that I may need something as strong as an aluminum cane.

Other than the fact that my wrist is sore, it was a positive experience, and 
I intend to do it again tomarrow night. It was really nice to be able to 
walk at night, even if it was a bit loud. Do they make a quiet cane? To me, 
it does not seem to me like the cane provides any auditory feedback that 
can't also be detected via touch, and I'd like to be able to hear myself 

A couple of questions:
How do I better detect curbs and keep track of what street i'm on? How do I 
stay focused on something as dull as cane travel? Since I still have vision, 
is it ok to rely on a flashlight to check out street signs? If I know that 
the main streets are 8th, 13th, and 15th, do I really need to know that I am 
in between 9th and 10th, or is it ok to find out exactly where I am once I 
hit one of those main roads? Is the wrist pain unavoidle until I become 
conditioned to using a cane? What is the absolute strongest cane material 
for the lightest weight? I was walking at max speed, I was walking as fast 
as I walk during the day, is it reasonable and safe for me to expect myself 
to walk that fast or should I take it down a notch? Is it a good idea for me 
to teach myself cane travel, or should I really wait for the O/M instructor?


"From compromise and things half done,
Keep me with stern and stubborn pride,
And when at last the fight is won,
... Keep me still unsatisfied." --Louis Untermeyer

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