White Cane Week busts myths about people with vision loss using a cane

CNIB says there's a big learning curve for understanding who is behind a white cane.

CNIB says there's a big learning curve for understanding who is behind a white cane

Lisa Tefler with CNIB stands with white canes. (Abby Schneider/CBC)

Advocates are hoping White Cane Week will bring awareness about the cane and the abilities of people behind it.

"Right now there's a big learning curve for our community to learn about the white cane and understand what it means," said Lisa Tefler, with CNIB in Regina.

CNIB is a rehabilitation agency which provides services for people who are blind, visually impaired and deafblind.

One part of that understanding, says Tefler, is that many don't realize canes can be used by people who are both partially sighted and those who are blind. People using a cane are not just using it to feel, they're listening to the sounds as it hits the ground.

For partially sighted people, their vision can often change as light or other external factors fluctuate. They may be able to see well at some points, but not at others.

According to CNIB, 14,300 people in Saskatchewan are blind or partially sighted.

The week runs Feb. 7 to Feb. 13. 

Dos and Donts for interacting with people with vision loss

Tefler said a lot of people don't know how to interact with someone on the street when they're using the cane. 

"They're either too nervous to help somebody and they stay back, or they help too much," she said.

Tefler suggested people do:

  • Stop to tell a person using a cane if the light has changed, or something has happened with traffic that they don't seem to have noticed.

Tefler suggested people don't:

  • Assume people with a cane need help.
  • Try to help them cross the street by dragging them across.
  • Yell at someone with a cane from your car saying "stop" or "go."


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