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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Text and Materials Development
Sandra Rosen

Project Leaders
Terrie (Mary T.) Terlau
Rosanne Hoffmann

Graphics and Photography
Sandra Rosen
Terri Gilmore
Bisig Impact Group

Production Team
Lila Adkins
Cary Crumpton
Darlene Donhoff
Anna Fox
Frank Hayden
David Hines
Karen Marshall
Lou Tingle
Phyllis Williams

Expert Reviewers
Nora Griffin-Shirley
Julie Hapeman
Donna Brostek Lee
Richard Long
Grace Ambrose Zaken

INTRODUCTION



The LONG CANE techniques form the foundation for many of the travel skills used in most environments. Long cane techniques are used to detect elevation changes and obstacles in the travel path that are below waist level. Basic cane techniques enable the traveler to locate a clear path of travel, negotiate varying terrains, and locate and move around obstacles and hazards in the travel path safely and efficiently. They are used in unfamiliar or uncontrolled environments as well as in those environments that may be both familiar and controlled but which have elevation changes or obstacles in the travel path that the traveler needs to detect. Basic cane skills can be used in conjunction with non-cane skills (e.g., UPPER HAND & FOREARM, TRAILING) in environments where there may be objects or protruding hazards at or above waist level (e.g., doorknobs, low tree branches) that the traveler needs to detect.

The long cane (see Figure 1.01) is often referred to as a "white cane" and consists of a thin shaft averaging about 12 mm in diameter. Cane shafts are commonly made from aluminum, graphite, carbon fiber, or fiberglass and may or may not have a crook at the top. The top portion of the shaft (generally around 12 inches or less depending on the length of the cane) is covered with a plastic or rubber grip by which the traveler holds it. The long cane also has a tip at the bottom that contacts the ground. Canes come in many different styles with varying grips and tips. Each style of cane offers specific advantages in different travel environments and/or is preferred by individual travelers. For example, the fiberglass cane is lightweight and easy to move; and the aluminum cane, with its greater weight, provides increased proprioceptive information to the user. Tips come in differing sizes, shapes, and materials to amplify auditory information as the tip contacts the ground with each step or to glide smoothly over rough walking surfaces. Some canes are rigid or non-folding; others fold into several sections connected by an elastic cord, or telescope into a fraction of their length for easy storing in crowded environments. Some are designed for rigorous travel, others only for identification of a person with a visual impairment.

The long cane is one of five "systems of travel" used by persons with visual impairments; other systems include the use of human guides, non-cane techniques, dog guides, and electronic travel devices. Long cane techniques are in turn divided into four categories of function: detection, negotiating doors and stairs, negotiating obstacles in the travel path, and following a shoreline. While each technique is designed for a specific purpose or for use in a specific travel environment, the techniques as a whole provide the foundation that enables the user to travel safely and effectively in most environments.

Detection

In these techniques, the long cane serves as both a probe and a bumper. It verifies a safe and clear travel path in front of the user and serves to detect low obstacles and elevation changes in the travel path before the traveler bumps into them. Detection techniques can also be used to identify specific features of the travel path such as textural changes and changes in elevation (e.g., curbs or ramps).

Negotiating Doors and Stairs

Specific techniques using the long cane enable the traveler to detect and safely negotiate doors and stairs of varying size and shape, and in a variety of indoor and outdoor environments.

Negotiating Obstacles

These techniques are used to safely and efficiently identify contact with an obstacle in the travel path (e.g., a piece of furniture in a room or a vehicle parked across a sidewalk) and to locate a clear path by which to walk around it. These techniques are also used in relocating the travel path after a veer off-course.

Shorelining

Specific long cane techniques are used to follow the edge, or "shoreline," of the travel path. This is often done to find a specific item or location along the edge of the travel path such as a mailbox, or an intersecting hallway or sidewalk. In addition, some travelers use these techniques to maintain tactile contact with specific landmarks in the environment rather than travel through open space as they go from point A to point B.

DETECTION

DIAGONAL

PURPOSE

To obtain limited protection from the cane when traveling in indoor environments. Because this technique does not reliably detect all obstacles or elevation changes in a traveler's path, it is only used in familiar, controlled environments in which there are either no elevation changes (e.g., descending stairs), or in which the traveler is aware of the location of elevation changes and can avoid them intentionally.

PREREQUISITE TECHNIQUES

None

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTS

Begin in a quiet, familiar indoor area, ideally a hallway that is free of obstacles, and has a smooth floor that will allow the cane to slide forward easily. A short, straight, and narrow hallway may help minimize veering during the early learning process.

Progress to areas in which the hallway is longer and wider. Gradually introduce areas that have carpeted surfaces, obstacles to detect, and intersecting hallways to negotiate.

SKILLS

Standard

This is a simple method of using the cane to provide limited lower body protection.

  1. The traveler walks with her shoulders level and her trunk facing forward without rotation.
  2. She holds the cane in a static position as follows:
    • The cane hand is held in line with the shoulder and 6-8 inches in front of the near hip (see Figure 1.01). The elbow is relaxed or even bent slightly.

      Figure 1.01
      The cane hand is held in line with the shoulder and 6-8 inches in front of the near hip.
      • — This positions the cane grip forward to protect the body around the near hip and to provide reaction time for the traveler should she contact an object with the grip side of the cane.
      • — It is important to keep the cane hand from drifting either to the side or toward midline because such movements will lessen the cane coverage on one side.
      • — Trying to reach the cane hand too far forward, however, can sometimes cause the trunk to rotate toward the opposite side. This, in turn, can position the cane tip too far to the opposite side and leave the grasp hand side of the body without sufficient protection. It can also potentially cause the traveler to veer.
    • The traveler holds the cane with the "Handshake Grasp," but with the back of her hand facing upward (see Figure 1.02). The traveler also
      • — holds the cane so that the top of the grip extends 1-2 inches above her wrist joint;
      • — extends her index finger flat along the top of the grip (on the flat side of the grip if there is one);
      • — bends her remaining three fingers around the grip of the cane;
      • — wraps her thumb around the cane and rests it against the edge of her middle finger.

        Figure 1.02
        The traveler holds the cane with the Handshake Grasp but with the back of her hand facing upward.
      • Note: Because the Handshake Grasp is used in both the DIAGONAL and TOUCH techniques, this grasp makes it easy for the traveler to switch between these two techniques without needing to readjust her grasp on the cane.

        Some travelers find that placing the index finger alongside the cane grip is a natural position that enables them to easily form an accurate perception of the location of the tip (LaGrow & Weessies, 1994).

        Figure 1.03a (Front view)
        Figure 1.03b (Rear view)
        The traveler holds the cane diagonally across her body; the tip and grip each extending 1-2 inches beyond her body width.
    • The traveler holds the cane diagonally across her body; the tip and grip each extend 1-2 inches beyond her body width (see Figures 1.03a and 1.03b). The cane tip either touches the ground or is held 1-2 inches above the ground.
      • — Some travelers find it easier to learn this technique if they leave the tip on the ground initially because doing so provides increased tactile feedback of the cane position and requires less effort. Walking with the cane tip on the ground works well on smooth floors; however, the cane tip may not slide smoothly on uneven or rough surfaces such as carpet. In such instances, the traveler may find that using a larger tip (e.g., marshmallow, teardrop, ball, roller) will help the cane tip slide more smoothly. As an alternative, the traveler can hold the cane tip up 1-2 inches above the ground to keep it from sticking on rough or uneven surfaces.
      • — Some travelers have difficulty keeping the tip from rising up too high at first. This may be due to either anxiety or the need to develop proprioceptive awareness of the proper cane position. Some travelers find that lifting the tip off of the ground with slight pressure from the middle finger (which is underneath the cane grip) instead of lifting from the wrist can avoid lifting the cane tip too high.
      • — An effective method that enables travelers to self-monitor the height of their cane tip is to periodically touch the tip to the ground (e.g., every 15-20 steps, initially). This not only gives travelers the opportunity to reposition the tip correctly if needed, but also gives feedback on how high it is by the distance that they need to lower the tip to contact the ground. As travelers gain skill in maintaining the correct tip position, this self-monitoring activity can be faded.
      • — It is important to maintain the static position of the cane while walking. If the cane tip moves toward midline, coverage of the body on the cane tip side will be decreased; if the tip moves too far out to the side, the cane tip may get in the way of other pedestrians and/or not contact objects in a timely manner, thus not providing the traveler with optimum time to react.

        Some travelers find it helpful to identify a clock reference for the tip position (e.g., "It feels as if it is at 10:00 or 2:00.").
      • — A sample strategy to introduce the proper position of the cane tip might look something like this:
        1. a. While the traveler stands still and holds the cane in the diagonal position, the instructor moves the cane tip to let the traveler experience the proprioceptive feelings of the correct tip position, the tip being too far to the side and then too far toward midline.
        2. b. While the traveler stands still and holds the cane in the diagonal position, the instructor moves the cane tip to an incorrect position and allows the traveler to independently return the cane tip to the correct position.
        3. c. While the traveler stands still and holds the cane in the diagonal position, the instructor tries to move the cane tip to an incorrect position while the traveler actively maintains the correct position and does not permit the instructor to change the position of the cane tip. It is important that the instructor not overpower the traveler's efforts to maintain the cane tip in the correct position, but give just enough pressure to challenge her ability to do so.

      Note: When using a cane that has a large crook (e.g., Mahler), the traveler can hold the cane with the crook facing in any of the following directions (LaGrow & Weessies, 1994):
      • To the side in order to provide additional shoulder protection;
      • Up over the knuckles to protect the back of the hand from contact with objects under which the cane tip might slide (e.g., tables);
      • Inward and behind the wrist to prevent unwanted contact with objects along the traveler's side.

GENERAL MODIFICATIONS

While most people prefer the handshake grasp (LaGrow & Weessies, 1994), there are alternate grasps that a traveler can use if she so chooses.

Overhand Grasp

The traveler holds the cane with her thumb pointing down the shaft and all remaining fingers wrapped around the grip. The back of her hand faces upward (Hill & Ponder, 1976). This grasp is also called the "original grasp" (LaGrow & Weessies, 1994) or "thumb grasp" (Jacobson, 1993); see Figure 1.04.

Figure 1.04
The Overhand Grasp

The traveler positions the cane tip 1-2 inches beyond her body width on the opposite side.

Pencil Grasp

The traveler holds the cane with the palm of her hand facing midline.

The cane grip rests in the base of the web of the thumb and forefinger, both of which are extended down the cane shaft; her remaining fingers are flexed, with her middle finger supporting the weight of the cane (Jacobson, 1993; LaGrow & Weessies, 1994); see Figure 1.05.

Figure 1.05
The Pencil Grasp

Turning

To ensure that the cane provides optimum protection while not interfering with nearby pedestrians when the traveler changes her direction of travel.

  1. Upon locating the opening (e.g., intersecting hallway), the traveler pauses and pulls the cane tip back to her feet.
    • Depending upon her speed of travel and the environment, the traveler may need to take one to two more steps after locating an opening auditorily, so that she doesn't turn prematurely.
    • Pulling the cane tip close to her body before turning a corner prevents tripping passersby as she turns; this is especially important in congested areas. Pausing and pulling the cane tip close to her body can be eliminated if the traveler is certain that there are no other pedestrians around.
  2. After listening to be certain that no pedestrians are in her travel path, the traveler turns in the new direction, resumes the DIAGONAL position and continues walking.

To Move the Cane to the Other Hand

  1. The traveler brings her cane hand to midline with her palm facing toward midline; she simultaneously brings her free hand to midline with the palm facing toward midline.
  2. The traveler grasps the cane with her free hand and assumes the proper cane position, being careful not to let the cane tip rise excessively high while she moves the cane to her other hand.

COMMON ERRORS AND CORRECTIONS

Error:
The traveler holds the cane tip higher than about 1-2 inches off of the ground.

Correction:
Holding the cane tip no higher than about 1-2 inches off of the ground helps to prevent the cane from poking someone and locates low-lying objects more effectively. It is not always necessary or efficient to keep the cane tip in contact with the floor.

Error:
The traveler reaches her cane hand more than 6-8 inches forward of the near hip.

Correction:
Holding her arm no more than 6-8 inches forward of the near hip minimizes the possibility that the traveler will inadvertently rotate her trunk (in the effort to reach her hand forward) and veer.

Error:
When holding the cane in the diagonal position, the traveler raises the shoulder of her cane hand higher than her opposite shoulder.

Correction:
Raising one shoulder higher than the other can cause the traveler's trunk to rotate toward the low shoulder and thereby cause her to veer inadvertently.

Error:
The traveler allows the cane tip to drift forward as she walks.

Correction:
Keeping the cane in the proper position and not allowing the tip to drift too far forward ensures that the cane will provide 1-2 inches of coverage beyond the shoulder of the non-cane hand and protect that side of the traveler's body.

Error:
The traveler allows the cane tip to drift backward as she walks.

Correction:
Keeping the cane in the proper position with the tip forward helps to ensure that the traveler will detect objects in her path with sufficient warning to avoid contacting them with her body. Allowing the cane to drift backward can also cause it to extend too far past the traveler's shoulder, unnecessarily contacting objects outside of the travel path and perhaps getting in the way of other pedestrians.

Error:
The traveler fails to hold her cane hand 6-8 inches forward of the near hip and instead lets her arm hang down directly at her side.

Correction:
Keeping her hand forward of the near hip positions the cane to detect objects and to still allow a minimum amount of time for the traveler to react when she does contact an object. In addition, depending upon the length of the cane, the cane tip may not extend far enough on the traveler's other side to provide adequate protection when the traveler hangs her arm straight down at her side.

Error:
The traveler fails to slow her pace while walking using the DIAGONAL technique.

Correction:
Slowing her pace is important due to the limited protection provided by the cane. A slower pace provides the traveler with more reaction time to respond to objects that the cane detects.

Error:
The traveler fails to pull the cane tip to her feet before turning.

Correction:
Pausing and pulling the cane tip to her feet before turning prevents the traveler from tripping passersby with the cane.

NOTES FOR TEACHERS

RELATED TECHNIQUES

Carrying a Cane When Walking With a Guide
City Bus Travel
Diagonal Trailing
Direction Taking*
Escalators With a Cane
Escalators With a Cane and Guide
Revolving Doors
Shortened Cane
Stairs With a Cane
Stairs With a Cane and Guide
Subway Travel
Traversing Open Spaces*

* Knowing the DIAGONAL technique enables the traveler to safely cross a familiar, open area (in which there are no level changes) after establishing her direction of travel.



TOUCH

PURPOSE

To detect elevation changes and obstacles in the travel path. The TOUCH technique provides the foundation for many of the basic cane skills and is the primary technique used in most forms of advanced cane travel.

PREREQUISITE TECHNIQUES

None

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTS

Begin in a quiet, open, familiar area that is free of obstacles, in which the ground is level and smooth, and that does not require the traveler to ascend or descend any steps or to negotiate doorways. Long corridors or a large gymnasium with smooth floors and unobstructed space provide an ideal learning environment. If such spaces are not available, a long smooth driveway, sidewalk, or other paved area may suffice. Begin by walking short distances and gradually increase the distance traveled.

Progress to unfamiliar areas, including those that have irregular walking surfaces (e.g., uneven sidewalks), level changes (e.g., stairs), and obstacles in the travel path that the cane will detect.

Lead up to using this technique in gradually more complex environments such as residential, small business, and urban areas.

SKILLS

Standard

The most efficient method of using the cane to detect obstacles and elevation changes in the travel path. This method can be used in all environments and it forms the basis for many of the travel techniques that are used in independent travel.

Posture

  1. The traveler stands and walks with good posture.
    • His shoulders, trunk, and feet should be aligned facing forward. The traveler's shoulders should be relaxed and held neither excessively raised nor lowered (see Figure 2.01).

      Figure 2.01
      The traveler's shoulders, trunk, and feet are aligned facing forward.
      • — Proper posture assists the traveler to maintain a straight line of travel. It also helps keep the cane arm from becoming tense or tired which can decrease the traveler's reaction time and the amount of information that he receives through the cane.
      • — Trunk rotation is often seen when a student attempts to reach too far forward with the cane, or in the presence of scoliosis.
    • When walking, the traveler's free arm should have a normal arm swing (a tense lower arm and/or lack of arm swing may sometimes be a sign of stress during travel).
      • — Some travelers who are congenitally blind do not naturally swing their arms when walking.

Grasp

Most travelers perform this technique using their dominant hand unless they have a specific reason to do otherwise (e.g., using an ambulatory aid in the dominant hand).

Handshake grasp.

Pencil grasp.

Arm, Wrist, and Hand Position

The traveler holds his upper arm resting against the side of his body with his hand about 6-8 inches in front of his trunk; his elbow is bent just enough to raise his hand to about waist height, and his hand is positioned at midline (see Figures 2.04a and 2.04b).


Figure 2.04a (Side view)
Figure 2.04b (Front view)
The traveler holds his upper arm resting against the side of his body; his hand is held at midline at about waist height and 6-8 inches in front of his body.

Wrist Motion

Holding his forearm still and not allowing it to rotate, the traveler bends his wrist left and right as if it were a hinge (sometimes referred to as a "swinging door motion"); see Figures 2.05a and 2.05b.

Figures 2.05a and 2.05b
The traveler bends his wrist left and right while holding his forearm still.
Figure 2.06
Feeling the forearm bone that is just above the wrist and in line with his thumb while bending his wrist left and right, easily lets the traveler know whether or not he is also rotating his forearm.

Arc Width

The traveler touches the cane tip to the ground 1-2 inches beyond his body width on each side (see Figures 2.07a-d).


Figures 2.07a and 2.07b
(Front view)
Figures 2.07c and 2.07d
(Rear view)
The traveler touches the cane tip to the ground 1-2 inches beyond his body width on each side.

Foot-Cane Coordination

The cane tip touches the ground at the end of each arc as the traveler's opposite heel contacts the ground. In this way, the cane tip clears the area in which the traveler will place his foot when he takes his next step on that side (Blasch & De l'Aune, 1992). This is called being "in-step" (see Figure 2.08).

Figure 2.08
In step: The cane tip touches the ground at the end of each arc as the traveler's opposite heel contacts the ground.
Out of Step: If the cane tip does not contact the ground where the traveler's foot later lands, it does not provide optimum detection of obstacles and elevation changes.

Modifications.

The traveler may choose to use the Constant Contact method (see below) to increase the likelihood that his cane will detect shallow elevation changes in the travel path.

The traveler can walk at a pace that is slower than the cane movement to ensure better coverage. In other words, for every two steps that the traveler takes, he can make three or more arcs with the cane. Slowing his pace, in effect, decreases the amount of time that the traveler needs to react when his cane contacts objects in his path.

Arc Height

While walking, the traveler should not actively lift his cane tip in the middle of the arc, but let the natural up and down movement that his body makes with each step passively raise the tip approximately one inch from the ground in the middle of each arc (see Figure 2.09). The cane tip should contact the ground very lightly at the extremes of each arc to avoid excessive noise, sticking, bouncing, or vibrating.

Figure 2.09
While walking, the traveler allows the natural up and down movement that he makes with each step to passively raise the tip approximately one inch from the ground in the middle of each arc.

Stride and Speed

Although the traveler's stride length will vary with different speeds, he should walk at a speed and with a stride length that is even and comfortable.

Clearing

When walking in an unfamiliar or uncontrolled environment, the traveler should clear the area by moving his cane in one full arc to verify that there are no obstacles or elevation changes immediately in front of him before he takes the first step forward.

Constant Contact

This method provides the most reliable detection of subtle drop-offs, gradients, blended curbs, and low objects in the travel path. Unlike the Standard method, which may only detect some obstacles or elevation changes at the ends of the arc, the Constant Contact method detects such things at every point of the arc. Due to this increased tactile feedback, the Constant Contact method has become the preferred technique for many travelers. It is so commonly used by travelers that some travelers and instructors consider it to be a primary technique of its own, rather than a variation of the standard TOUCH technique.

Because the Constant Contact method eliminates the need to concentrate on the arc height, it is also especially preferred by travelers who have weakness in their wrists or who, for any reason, have difficulty maintaining a proper arc height.

  1. The traveler performs the standard TOUCH technique with the cane tip remaining in contact with the walking surface at all times.
    • If the traveler finds that a pencil style cane tip sticks excessively and/or wears too quickly, he may wish to use a different cane tip (e.g., marshmallow, roller, ball, teardrop). See the glossary for photos of sample cane tips.

Turning

To ensure that the cane provides optimum protection while not interfering with nearby pedestrians when the traveler changes his direction of travel.

  1. Upon locating an opening, the traveler pauses and pulls the cane tip back to his feet, then turns in his new direction.
    • Depending upon his speed of travel and the environment, a traveler may only locate the opening auditorily after he has already taken one to two steps past it. Unless he is sure that this is the case however, he should take one to two more steps after locating the opening so that he doesn't turn prematurely.
    • Pulling the cane tip close to his body when turning a corner prevents the traveler from tripping passersby. This is especially important in congested areas. Pausing and pulling the cane tip close to his body can be eliminated if he is certain that there are no other pedestrians nearby.
  2. Listening to be certain that no pedestrians are in his travel path, the traveler turns and then, when it is clear, re-extends the cane and resumes travel.

COMMON ERRORS AND CORRECTIONS

Error:
The traveler moves his entire arm from left to right as he swings the cane rather than limiting the movement to his wrist only.

Correction:
The traveler should hold his arm still and move only his wrist. This facilitates an even arc and a more precise awareness of the cane's movement.

Error:
The traveler fails to maintain an arc width of 1-2 inches beyond his body width on each side.

Correction:
Maintaining an arc width of 1-2 inches beyond his body width ensures that the cane will detect obstacles in the travel path on each side with a small margin added for safety.

An insufficient arc can be due to several factors:

Error:
The traveler fails to remain in-step when performing this technique.

Correction:
The traveler should remain in-step when performing this technique. This allows the cane tip to contact the ground two steps ahead of each foot, previewing the approximate area where the foot will fall next, thereby ensuring that the cane will detect any obstacles in the traveler's path in sufficient time for him to react.

Error:
The traveler's cane arc exceeds 1-2 inches on each side of his body width.

Correction:
The traveler's arc width should extend only 1-2 inches beyond body width on each side. This provides optimum detection of obstacles while avoiding contact with objects and people not in the immediate travel path.

Error:
The traveler holds the index finger of his cane hand bent at all times, so that only the fingertip touches the cane grip.

Correction:
The traveler should hold his index finger straight at all joints. This minimizes discomfort and fatigue, and facilitates receiving sensory information transmitted by the cane.

Error:
The traveler fails to hold his cane hand in midline as he performs the TOUCH technique.

Correction:
Holding his hand at midline facilitates equal cane coverage on both sides of his body. Failing to hold his hand at midline can decrease the arc width on the opposite side to less than 1-2 inches beyond body width.

Error:
The traveler rotates his forearm as he swings the cane left and right.

Correction:
The traveler should move his wrist in a left/right motion, without rotating his forearm. This facilitates a low arc, which more reliably detects low objects and shallow curbs in the traveler's path.

Error:
The traveler holds his cane hand less than 6-8 inches in front of his body.

Correction:
Holding his cane hand 6-8 inches in front of his body allows the traveler sufficient time to react when his cane contacts objects in the travel path and to avoid bumping into the objects with his body.

Error:
The traveler holds his cane hand more than 6-8 inches in front of his body.

Correction:
Reaching to hold the cane grip too far ahead of his body can cause the traveler to rotate his trunk and to veer inadvertently.

Error:
The traveler fails to pull the cane tip close to his feet before turning.

Correction:
Pulling the cane tip close to his feet before turning prevents the traveler's cane from accidentally tripping passersby as he turns.

Error:
The traveler fails to clear after turning and before stepping forward in a new direction.

Correction:
Clearing before stepping forward in a new direction prevents the traveler from bumping into an object or person during his first step forward in an unfamiliar or uncontrolled area.

Error:
The traveler holds the shoulder of his cane arm raised while walking.

Correction:
The traveler should hold the shoulder of his cane arm relaxed. Holding the shoulder raised increases tension in the cane arm and can lead to discomfort, fatigue, decreased reaction time, less information perceived from the cane and, in some cases, veering.

Error:
The traveler fails to hold his cane hand at about waist height.

Correction:
Holding the cane hand at about waist height positions the grip to move upward, and not downward when the cane tip contacts an object. It also increases the angle at which the cane contacts the ground, thereby facilitating easier detection of subtle downward elevation changes (e.g., low curbs).

Error:
The traveler holds the cane so that his index finger rests either below or on top of the cane grip rather than along the side of the grip.

Correction:
Holding the cane grip so that his index finger rests on the side of the grip provides optimal control of the cane while ensuring minimal strain on the wrist joint when the cane contacts objects. This position also can facilitate an increased awareness of specific cane movements (e.g., when the cane tip drops off of a down-curb ahead).

Error:
The traveler fails to maintain a firm grasp on the cane grip, but instead holds the cane grip very loosely.

Correction:
Holding the cane grip with a firm grasp facilitates better control of the cane's motion and receipt of information transmitted by the cane. Holding the cane too loosely can make it difficult to maintain control of the cane when it unexpectedly contacts objects or snags on a rough ground surface (e.g., grass or broken sidewalk).

Error:
The traveler holds the cane grip too tightly.

Correction:
The traveler should hold the cane grip firmly, but not tightly. Holding it too tightly can cause stress and fatigue at the wrist joint and can decrease the amount of tactile information received from the cane.

Error:
The traveler allows his arc height to exceed 1 inch above the ground.

Correction:
Keeping the arc height at no more than 1 inch above the ground helps to ensure that the cane will detect low obstacles in the traveler's path.

Error:
The traveler holds his cane arm fully extended with his elbow locked.

Correction:
Keeping his upper arm at his side with his elbow bent just enough to center his cane hand keeps the arm relaxed enough to flex when his cane snags or contacts an obstacle in the travel path. When the elbow is locked, any sudden impacts or snags of the cane can irritate the elbow joint. In addition, keeping the upper arm at the side alleviates any tendency to pull the shoulder of the cane arm forward—a position which can, in turn, rotate the trunk and potentially alter the line of travel.

NOTES FOR TEACHERS

TEACHING TIPS SPECIFIC TO INDIVIDUAL COMPONENTS

Grasp

The traveler may choose to use either a "handshake" or a "pencil grasp" (see below). One or more of the following factors can influence this decision.

Hand and Arm Position

Wrist Motion

Foot-Cane Coordination

Arc Width

Arc Height

Stride and Speed

RELATED TECHNIQUES

Approach (Street Crossings)
Areas Without Sidewalks
Carrying a Cane When Walking With a Guide
City Bus Travel
Direction Taking*
Doors With a Cane
Escalators With a Cane
Gas stations/Parking Lots
Median Strips
Obstacles in the Travel Path
Revolving Doors
Shortened Cane
Sidewalk Recovery
Signalized Intersections
Stairs with a Cane
Street Crossing Mechanics
Street Crossing Recovery
Subway Travel
Three Point
Touch & Drag
Touch & Slide
Touch Trailing
Unsignalized Intersections
Vehicles in the Crosswalk
Vehicles in the Travel Path

* Knowing the TOUCH technique enables the traveler to safely cross an open area after establishing her direction of travel.



SHORTENED CANE

PURPOSE

To travel in congested areas with maximum protection from the cane while minimizing contact with objects or other pedestrians

PREREQUISITE TECHNIQUES

Diagonal (for Diagonal method only)
Touch (for Touch method only)

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTS

Begin in a quiet, open, familiar area that is free of obstacles and in which the ground is level and smooth and does not require the traveler to ascend or descend any steps or negotiate doorways.

Progress to familiar areas that are slightly crowded. Gradually lead up to unfamiliar areas with increasing pedestrian congestion.

Practice this technique in a variety of environments and situations (e.g., stores, crowded sidewalks).

SKILLS

Standard

To travel in a congested area with maximum protection from the cane.

  1. The traveler transfers her grasp on the cane to the bottom of the grip or to a point just below the grip. She performs the TOUCH, DIAGONAL, TOUCH & SLIDE, TOUCH & DRAG, THREE-POINT, DIAGONAL TRAILING or TOUCH TRAILING technique (see Figure 3.01).

    Figure 3.01
    The traveler grasps the cane either on the bottom or, or at a point just below, the grip and performs the proper cane technique.
    • Holding the cane lower on the shaft lessens the forward length of the cane, thereby minimizing the possibility that the cane will interfere with the movement of other people in a congested area.
      • — Exactly how low on the shaft the traveler holds the cane is determined by the amount of congestion in the area and the amount of forward extension of the cane that the traveler desires.
      • — If the traveler's cane has a crook, she may wish to rotate the shaft so that the crook faces forward or to the side if she finds that it is catching on her clothing or interfering with her movement.
      • — When performing the TOUCH, TOUCH & DRAG, TOUCH & SLIDE, or THREE-POINT techniques, the traveler may need to hold her cane hand further than 6-8 inches ahead of her body, or hold the cane with a pencil grasp, to position the cane grip where it will not be in her way.
    • Due to the decreased forward extension of the cane, the traveler must shorten her stride and reduce her speed to remain in-step, to avoid overstepping the cane, and to allow sufficient time to react when contacting obstacles or other pedestrians.

Turning

  1. When turning, the traveler pauses and pulls the cane tip back to her feet, then turns in the new direction.
    • Pulling the cane tip in close to her feet when turning a corner prevents tripping passersby as she turns.
    • Depending upon her speed of travel and the environment, the traveler may need to take one to two more steps after locating an opening auditorily, so that she doesn't turn prematurely.
  2. When certain that there are no pedestrians in her path, the traveler "clears" and then continues forward in the new direction.

COMMON ERRORS AND CORRECTIONS

Error:
The traveler fails to lower her grasp on the cane shaft and narrows her arc slightly.

Correction:
The traveler should lower her grasp on the cane shaft and perform a normal arc width. This lessens the forward extension of the cane, thereby minimizing the possibility that the cane will interfere with the movement of other people. Maintaining a normal arc width provides full body protection.

Error:
The traveler fails to slow her speed when performing this technique.

Correction:
When the forward extension of the cane is shortened, slowing her speed helps to ensure against overstepping where the cane has cleared.

Error:
The traveler holds the cane with the grip close to her trunk rather than lowering her grasp on the cane.

Correction:
The traveler should lower her grasp on the cane shaft and hold her hand at least 6-8 inches in front of her body. This shortens the forward length of the cane while still leaving sufficient time for the traveler to react when the cane contacts objects in her travel path.

Error:
The traveler fails to remain "in-step" when performing this technique.

Correction:
The traveler should remain "in-step" when performing this technique. This allows the cane tip to contact the ground two steps ahead of each foot, previewing the approximate area where the foot will fall next, thereby ensuring that the cane will detect any obstacles in the traveler's path in sufficient time for him to react.

NOTES FOR TEACHERS

RELATED TECHNIQUES

Carrying a Cane When Walking With a Guide*
City Bus Travel
Elevators
Escalators With a Cane
Revolving Doors
Subway Travel

* Knowing the SHORTENED CANE technique enables the traveler to avoid tripping passersby with her cane when walking with a guide in a congested area.



TOUCH AND SLIDE

PURPOSE

To locate textural changes and subtle drop-offs in the travel path

PREREQUISITE TECHNIQUES

Touch

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTS

Begin in a quiet, open, familiar area that is free of obstacles and in which the ground is level and smooth and does not require the traveler to ascend or descend any steps or negotiate doorways.

Progress next to a quiet, familiar area with an easily discernable drop-off (e.g., descending stairs, down-curb) in the travel path for the traveler to detect.

Practice using this technique to detect increasingly subtle drop-offs and texture changes (e.g., borders between curb ramps and the street, borders between cement sidewalks and asphalt parking areas).

Practice this technique in a variety of environments in indoor, residential, small business, and urban areas.

SKILLS

Standard

This technique is most useful to detect subtle textural changes such as at the edges of curb ramps or blended curbs as well as drop-offs that are perpendicular to the travel path. This assumes, however, that the cane tip is not lifted as it crosses the transition between the textures.

The traveler performs the TOUCH technique, but lets the cane tip remain in contact with the walking surface and slide slightly forward at the end of each arc. She can do this by either keeping the same arc width as the TOUCH technique and letting the cane tip slide directly forward upon each contact (see Figures 4.01a and 4.01b) or by touching the cane tip down at midline (or in front of each foot) and letting it slide forward at a 30-degree angle to the outer edge of each arc (see Figures 4.02a and 4.02b).

Figures 4.01a and 4.01b
The traveler maintains the standard arc width and lets the cane tip slide directly forward upon each contact with the ground.


Figures 4.02a and 4.02b
The traveler touches the cane tip down either at midline or in front of each foot and lets it slide forward at a 30-degree angle to the outer edge of each arc.

COMMON ERRORS AND CORRECTIONS

Error:
The traveler actively pushes the cane tip forward along the ground with each step.

Correction:
Actively pushing the cane tip forward with each step is an unnecessary effort and can sometimes lead to an excessively wide arc width. Simply holding the cane tip on the ground at the end of each arc allows the forward motion of the traveler's body to slide the tip forward while facilitating a normal arc width.

Error:
The traveler fails to remain in-step while performing this technique.

Correction:
The traveler should remain in-step when performing this technique. This allows the cane tip to contact the ground two steps ahead of the traveler's foot, thereby previewing approximately where the foot will fall and ensuring that the cane will detect any obstacles in her path. It may be necessary for the traveler to slow her walking speed to do this easily.

NOTES FOR TEACHERS

RELATED TECHNIQUES

Approach (Street Crossings)
Escalators With a Cane
Subway Travel

SHORELINING

DIAGONAL TRAILING

PURPOSE

To follow a vertical surface, or to locate specific objectives along that surface, by using a cane. Because this technique does not reliably detect all obstacles or elevation changes in a traveler's path, it is only used in familiar, controlled environments in which there are no elevation changes (e.g., descending stairs).

PREREQUISITE TECHNIQUES

Diagonal

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTS

Begin in a quiet indoor area in which there is a smooth vertical surface to follow with the cane. The surface should be free of obstacles (e.g., cabinets) and the floor should be tile or other smooth surface that will allow the cane to slide forward easily.

Progress to quiet indoor environments that have objects that will be contacted along the vertical surface being followed (e.g., doorways, water fountains, furniture, intersecting walls or hallway openings).

Progress next to areas with rougher trailing surfaces along which the cane may not slide as easily (e.g., carpet, rubber baseboards on walls, rougher wall surfaces such as brick).

SKILLS

Standard

A method for providing limited lower body protection when using the cane to locate objectives along a wall or other vertical surface.

Walking slowly next to the vertical surface to be followed, the traveler performs the DIAGONAL technique with the cane tip touching lightly in the junction of the surface and the floor or with the cane tip touching the surface 1-4 inches above the floor (see Figures 5.01 and 5.02). She holds the cane in the hand opposite the vertical surface being followed.

Figure 5.01
The traveler performs the DIAGONAL technique with the cane tip touching lightly in the junction of the surface and the floor.


Figure 5.02
The traveler performs the DIAGONAL technique with the cane tip touching the surface 1-4 inches above the floor.

Crossing an Opening

A method for efficiently and safely crossing an opening (e.g., doorway or intersecting hallway) when following a wall or other vertical surface using the DIAGONAL TRAILING technique

Upon reaching the edge of the opening, the traveler anchors the cane at the edge, walks up to it, and pauses to listen for people passing through the doorway or hallway.

When the travel path is clear, the traveler crosses the opening using the DIAGONAL technique.

Turning

To turn a corner safely and with optimum cane protection when using the DIAGONAL TRAILING technique

Upon reaching the edge of a doorway, intersecting hallway, or pathway, the traveler anchors the cane, walks up to it and pauses to listen for people in her projected path.

When the travel path is clear, the traveler maintains the cane tip anchored against the edge and turns the corner. She then continues traveling.

COMMON ERRORS AND CORRECTIONS

Error:
The traveler holds the cane in the hand that is closest to the trailed surface.

Correction:
Holding the cane in the hand that is opposite the trailed surface positions the cane across the traveler's body to provide maximum protection.

Error:
The traveler fails to maintain the cane in the proper diagonal position, but allows the cane tip to drift backward along the trailed surface.

Correction:
Maintaining the proper diagonal position, and not allowing the cane tip to drift backward along the trailed surface, ensures that the traveler will have sufficient time to react when her cane contacts objects.

Error:
The traveler fails to maintain the cane in the proper diagonal position, but allows the cane tip to drift forward along the trailed surface.

Correction:
Maintaining the proper diagonal position, and not allowing the cane tip to drift forward along the trailed surface, ensures that the cane will be positioned to provide optimum protection of the traveler's body on the side away from the surface. It also helps the traveler to maintain a forward body alignment and not have her trunk inadvertently turn toward the wall.

Error:
The traveler allows the cane tip to rise more than about 4 inches above the floor.

Correction:
Keeping the cane tip only 1-4 inches above the walking surface minimizes the possibility that the traveler's cane will contact someone or something inappropriately.

Error:
The traveler fails to pause and anchor her cane against the edge of an opening (e.g., hallway or doorway) when her cane tip detects it.

Correction:
Pausing and anchoring the cane against the edge of an opening before crossing prevents the cane from interfering with people who are exiting the opening. It also allows the traveler time to listen and verify that the path is clear before proceeding to cross the opening.

Error:
The traveler fails to pause before turning at an opening.

Correction:
Pausing and anchoring the cane at the edge of an opening (while listening for people to exit) prevents the traveler from tripping people with her cane or from bumping into them as she turns into the opening.

Error:
The traveler's body drifts away from the trailed surface.

Correction:
Maintaining a 4-6 inch distance from the trailed surface while trailing enables the traveler to keep the cane in the proper position for optimum protection. Drifting away from the trailed surface lessens the forward protection of the cane and may cause the traveler to rotate her trunk toward the surface, thereby losing her forward alignment.

Error:
The traveler fails to slow her pace as she performs this technique.

Correction:
Slowing her pace is important due to the limited protection provided by the cane. A slower pace provides the traveler with more reaction time to respond to objects that the cane detects.

NOTES FOR TEACHERS

RELATED TECHNIQUES

None



TOUCH AND DRAG

PURPOSE

To follow the edge of a raised walking surface from above (e.g., elevated walkways and platforms) in order to remain parallel to the edge or to locate an objective along it (e.g., following the curb edge of a sidewalk in order to locate a bus pole).

This technique can also be used to follow either a raised or level shoreline (e.g., curbs, grass line, and the transitions between surfaces of different textures such as a concrete sidewalk and the asphalt pavement of gas stations) to establish and maintain a straight line of travel along the shoreline or to locate objectives along it such as an intersecting sidewalk or hallway.

PREREQUISITE TECHNIQUES

Touch

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTS

Begin in a quiet, familiar, outdoor environment that is free of obstacles and intersecting paths and that has a distinct, straight, and level shoreline to follow. Gradually introduce objects along the shoreline for the traveler to locate.

Progress next to quiet, unfamiliar, outdoor environments. Introduce shorelines that are curved or irregular and locations that have less distinct shorelines to follow (e.g., the seam between two similar surfaces such as concrete and asphalt—although this level of skill can be difficult for some travelers to achieve).

Progress next to following shorelines of surfaces that are lower than the walking surface (e.g., the curb edge of a sidewalk).

Lead up to performing this technique in areas of increased pedestrian congestion (e.g., near busy bus stops).

Practice this technique in a variety of environments and situations (e.g., following a curb to locate the pole at a bus stop, following the inside shoreline of a sidewalk to avoid veering into a gas station or parking lot, and traveling in areas without sidewalks).

SKILLS

Standard

This is the safest and most effective way to trail the edge of a walking surface that is higher than the adjacent surface (e.g., to trail the parallel curb while walking on a sidewalk). It is also an easy method to use when following a shoreline that is level with the walking surface. Because the cane tip is in constant contact with the ground when moving in an arc toward the shoreline, this skill is especially effective when following a shoreline that curves.

  1. Walking next to the shoreline, the traveler performs the TOUCH technique with the following modifications:
    • A standard arc height is used when moving the cane from the shoreline to the opposite side. The cane tip is then dragged along the ground on the return arc toward the shoreline (see Figure 6.01).

      Figure 6.01
      The Touch and Drag Technique
      Figure 6.01a
      The traveler performs a standard arc when moving the cane from the shoreline to the opposite side.
      Figure 6.01b
      The traveler drags the cane tip along the ground on the return arc toward the shoreline.
    • The traveler should stay close to the shoreline to maintain a standard, symmetrical arc.
    • To remain in-step and to provide greater reaction time, the traveler should shorten his stride and reduce his speed.
    • If the traveler misses two consecutive contacts with the shoreline, he may have veered away from it. He should angle back to relocate it.

COMMON ERRORS AND CORRECTIONS

Error:
After missing two consecutive cane contacts with the shoreline, the traveler fails to pause, turn toward the shoreline, and then return to it.

Correction:
The traveler should pause, turn toward the shoreline, and then return to it after missing two consecutive cane contacts with the shoreline. This minimizes the chances of missing an objective along the shoreline.

Error:
The traveler fails to remain in-step when performing this technique.

Correction:
Remaining in-step allows the cane tip to contact the ground two steps ahead of each foot, best previewing the area where his next step will fall and ensuring that the cane will detect any obstacles in his path in sufficient time for him to react.

Error:
The traveler fails to maintain an arc width of 2 inches beyond his body width on the side away from the shoreline.

Correction:
Covering "body width plus 2 inches" on each side ensures that the cane will contact objects on the path before the traveler bumps into them.

Error:
The traveler fails to maintain a distance of 1 foot or less from the shoreline as he follows it.

Correction:
Maintaining a distance of 1 foot or less from the shoreline keeps the traveler close enough to the shoreline to contact it easily with each cane arc on that side. This, in turn, eliminates the need to reach the cane too far laterally in order to reach the shoreline and avoids the resulting decrease in forward protection afforded by the cane. It also eliminates the possibility that people might try to pass the traveler on the shoreline side where they might trip on the cane.

NOTES FOR TEACHERS

RELATED TECHNIQUES

Alignment (Street Crossings)*
Areas Without Sidewalks
City Bus Travel
Gas Stations
Median Strips
Obstacles in the Travel Path**
Sidewalk Recovery
Stairs With a Cane
Street Crossing Recovery
Subway Travel

* At a familiar intersection that has a shoreline immediately alongside the sidewalk, the traveler can use the TOUCH & DRAG technique to follow the shoreline up to the corner and establish a line of travel across the street. This technique is only used when other methods of alignment are not possible, and only in familiar areas where the direction of the shoreline that is being followed is parallel to the traveler's desired line of travel across the street.

** If the traveler encounters an obstacle in her walking path, she can use the TOUCH & DRAG technique to follow around the obstacle to its other side and then resume her desired line of travel.



TOUCH TRAILING

PURPOSE

To locate specific objectives along a vertical shoreline (e.g., a wall) while detecting drop-offs and low objects in the travel path. Also called "two-point trailing," this technique is generally not used for long distances, but can be very useful to establish an initial line of travel, realign after a veer, or to locate landmarks (e.g., doorways or intersecting paths) along the trailed surface.

Some travelers who have low vision may use this technique to follow a shoreline between two level surfaces (e.g., grass line and sidewalk). While the other techniques presented in this curriculum are those commonly used by travelers who do not have functional travel vision as well as some who do, this technique is included here because it is both very functional and commonly used by travelers with low vision.

PREREQUISITE TECHNIQUES

Touch

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTS

Trailing Along a Vertical Surface

Begin in a quiet, open, familiar area with a wall or vertical surface to be trailed. The wall should be free of obstacles and should have no interruptions or openings (e.g., doorways).

Progress next to quiet, unfamiliar, environments. Introduce openings (e.g., doorways), objects (e.g., stairs) and surface changes (e.g., closed doorways) along the wall to detect. Lead up to using this technique in more congested areas.

Practice this technique in a variety of environments and more complex settings (e.g., to locate a building entrance that is recessed and/or accessed only by ascending steps).

Trailing Along a Horizontal Surface

It should be noted that this technique is usually performed only by travelers who have sufficient vision to see the shoreline.

Begin on a quiet, familiar straight sidewalk that has a distinct, regular shoreline that is level with the sidewalk. Grass is one of the easiest shorelines to detect with a cane, but surfaces such as dirt or gravel can also be used. The shoreline should be free of intersecting sidewalks, elevation changes, or pedestrian traffic.

Progress to a quiet, familiar area that has intersecting sidewalks and driveways to detect. Lead up to using this technique in unfamiliar and more congested areas.

SKILLS

Along a Vertical Surface

A method for providing optimum lower body protection when using the cane to follow, or to locate objectives along, a wall or other vertical surface

Walking slowly next to the wall or other vertical surface to be followed, the traveler performs the TOUCH technique, allowing her cane tip to lightly contact the vertical surface, 1-4 inches above the floor or ground.

Crossing an Opening

A method for efficiently and safely crossing an opening (e.g., doorway or intersecting hallway) when following a wall or other vertical surface using the TOUCH TRAILING technique.

  1. When the traveler's cane tip contacts an opening (e.g., doorway or intersecting hallway), she anchors the cane at the edge of the opening and walks up to her cane.
  2. The traveler listens for people passing through the opening. When it is clear, the traveler crosses the opening using the TOUCH technique.
    • When crossing the opening, the traveler may choose to use alignment components of the TRAVERSING OPEN SPACES technique (e.g., trunk rotation, "squaring off") to more easily locate the wall (or other vertical surface) at the opposite side of the opening.

Turning

To turn a corner safely and with optimum cane protection when using the TOUCH TRAILING technique

  1. When the traveler's cane tip contacts an opening (e.g., intersecting hallway), she anchors her cane at the edge of the opening and walks up to it.
  2. Listening to be certain that no pedestrians are in her travel path, the traveler turns and then resumes travel.

Locating a Narrow Opening or Objective

To locate narrow openings or objectives that the cane might miss when using the Standard method of TOUCH TRAILING

The traveler follows the vertical surface, performing a combination of TOUCH TRAILING and SHORTENED CANE techniques.

Locating an Objective Above Ground Level

To locate objectives along a vertical surface when they are over 1-4 inches above ground level

The traveler performs the standard TOUCH TRAILING technique, but allows her cane tip to contact the vertical surface 6-8 inches above the ground (see Figure 7.01).

Figure 7.01
TOUCH TRAILING can be used to locate a building entrance that is recessed and/or only accessed by ascending steps. The cane tip must contact the vertical surface 6-8 inches above the ground.

Along a Horizontal Surface

A method commonly used to follow a shoreline between two level surfaces. It works best in environments where the shoreline is straight and the surfaces have significantly different textures.

Note: Although some travelers, especially those without functional travel vision, find it easier to follow a horizontal shoreline between two level surfaces using the TOUCH & DRAG technique. Other travelers with low vision find TOUCH TRAILING to be a viable alternative technique.

The traveler walks next to the shoreline using the TOUCH technique. She increases the arc width on the shoreline side to touch the cane tip down 1-2 inches beyond the edge of the shoreline.

COMMON ERRORS AND CORRECTIONS

Error:
The traveler fails to maintain the arc width on the non-shoreline side at 1-2 inches beyond her body width.

Correction:
Maintaining the arc width on the non-shoreline side at 1-2 inches beyond her body width positions the cane to detect objects in the travel path on that side with a small added margin for safety.

Error:
The traveler fails to remain in-step when performing this technique.

Correction:
Remaining in-step allows the cane tip to contact the ground two steps ahead of each foot, best previewing the area where her next step will fall and ensuring that the cane will detect any obstacles in her path in sufficient time for her to react.

Error:
The traveler fails to pause at the edge of an opening before crossing it.

Correction:
The traveler should pause at the edge of an opening and anchor her cane, listen for people to exit, and then cross when clear. This best positions her to hear, and be visible to, people exiting the opening. It also ensures that the traveler does not trip people with her cane or bump into them while crossing the opening.

Error:
When looking for a narrow objective along the shoreline, the traveler fails to hold the cane lower on the shaft.

Correction:
Holding the cane lower on the shaft effectually decreases its forward length. This ensures that the cane will not miss narrow openings or landmarks.

Error:
After missing two consecutive cane contacts with the shoreline or trailed surface, the traveler fails to pause, turn toward it, and then return to it.

Correction:
The traveler should pause, turn toward the shoreline or trailed surface, and then return to it after missing two consecutive cane contacts with it. This minimizes the chances of missing an objective along the shoreline or trailed surface.

Error:
When trailing a horizontal shoreline such as a grass line, the traveler fails to slow her pace when the cane sticks in the ground.

Correction:
The traveler should slow her pace when the cane sticks in the ground. This ensures against overstepping where the cane has cleared and potentially bumping into objects in the travel path.

Error:
The traveler walks at a distance of over 1 foot away from the shoreline or trailed surface as she follows it.

Correction:
Walking at a distance of 1 foot or less (ideally 4-6 inches) from the shoreline or trailed surface enables the traveler to follow it without using an excessively wide arc. A normal arc requires less effort to perform and keeps the traveler close enough to the trailed surface to avoid blocking the travel path for other people.

NOTES FOR TEACHERS

RELATED TECHNIQUES

Areas Without Sidewalks
City Bus Travel
Obstacles in the Travel Path*
Subway Travel
Three-Point
Vehicles in the Crosswalk
Vehicles in the Travel Path

* If the traveler encounters an obstacle in her walking path, she can use the TOUCH TRAILING technique to follow around the obstacle to its other side and then resume her desired line of travel.



THREE-POINT

PURPOSE

To follow an elevated shoreline (e.g., a curb) from below to locate an objective above the shoreline

This technique is often used to follow along a curb and locate the sidewalk after veering during a street crossing. It can also be used to detect doors or openings that are located above the walking surface.

PREREQUISITE TECHNIQUES

Touch Trailing

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTS

Begin in a quiet environment (e.g., a curb along a quiet residential street), following a straight shoreline that has a distinct difference in elevation (at least 4 inches) from the walking surface.

Progress to following shorelines that have decreasing differences in elevation from the walking surface.

Lead up to following shorelines that are curved or irregular.

Practice this technique in a variety of environments and situations (e.g., following a veer during a street crossing).

SKILLS

Standard

The standard method for locating an objective that is situated above, and near the edge of, an elevated shoreline

  1. Walking next to and below the shoreline, the traveler performs the TOUCH technique, but touches the cane tip to the ground at three points per cycle.
    • The traveler touches the cane away from the shoreline (see Figure 8.01a).
    • She moves the cane (with a normal arc width and height) or drags the cane to contact the bottom edge of the shoreline (e.g., curb; see Figure 8.01b).
    • The traveler touches the cane tip to the surface above the shoreline, extending the cane arc onto the higher surface only far enough to locate the objective being sought (generally no more than 6-12 inches from the shoreline; see Figure 8.01c).

      Figure 8.01
      The Three-Point Technique
      Figure 8.01a
      The traveler touches the cane tip to the surface away from the shoreline.
      Figure 8.01b
      The traveler touches the cane tip to the side of the shoreline.
      Figure 8.01c
      The traveler touches the cane tip to the surface above the shoreline.
  2. The traveler repeats the sequence until she locates the objective.
    • The traveler's posture, arm position, grasp, and wrist action remain as in the TOUCH technique.
    • The traveler walks "in-step" by coordinating her heel strikes with either
      • — the first and third contacts of the cane tip on the walking surface, or
      • — the first and second contacts of the cane tip (on the lower elevation and the side of the shoreline). Unless the traveler is able to move the cane to tap above the shoreline very quickly, she may find it necessary to pause while she does so in order to stay in-step.
    • The traveler's stride length and speed of travel may have to be reduced to remain in-step.
    • Staying near the surface she is following enables the traveler to extend the cane sufficiently far onto the higher surface to locate the objective. This also prevents pedestrians from walking between the traveler and the shoreline. This position also enables the traveler to maintain a safer distance from traffic on streets with no parking lane or where traffic comes close to the curb.

COMMON ERRORS AND CORRECTIONS

Error:
The traveler fails to touch the cane tip to the side of the shoreline when swinging the cane from a position below the shoreline to a position above the shoreline.

Correction:
Touching the cane tip to the side of the shoreline when swinging the cane from a position below the shoreline to a position above the shoreline best enables the traveler to keep track of the shoreline's location while she is walking. Contacting the side of the shoreline when moving the cane in the other direction is unnecessary and can be awkward.

Error:
The traveler fails to remain in-step when performing this technique.

Correction:
Remaining in-step allows the cane tip to contact the ground two steps ahead of each foot, best previewing the area where his next step will fall and ensuring that the cane will detect any obstacles in her path in sufficient time for her to react. It may be necessary for the traveler to slow her walking speed to do this easily.

NOTES FOR TEACHERS

RELATED TECHNIQUES

Median strips*
Recovery from veer
Stairs with a cane

* If it is necessary to step up onto a median strip during a street crossing, but there is an object on the strip that blocks her path (e.g., bush or other plantings), the traveler may use the THREE POINT technique to find a clear place onto which she can step and then prepare to complete her crossing at the appropriate time.

NEGOTIATING DOORS AND STAIRS



DOORS WITH A CANE

PURPOSE

To negotiate closed doorways when using a cane

PREREQUISITE TECHNIQUES

Contacting & Exploring Objects with a Cane*
Doors With a Cane & Guide**
Touch

* The Contacting Objects portion of the CONTACTING & EXPLORING OBJECTS WITH A CANE technique is used when the traveler's cane contacts the closed door. It enables her to maintain cane contact with the door and to position the cane properly (for locating the door handle) as she walks up to the door.

**Prior experience negotiating doors using the DOORS WITH A CANE & GUIDE technique may lessen the initial anxiety that some travelers feel when negotiating doors without a guide.

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTS

Begin in a familiar area that is quiet and free from a lot of pedestrian traffic. For initial instruction, use indoor, lightweight, spring-loaded doors where wind and other weather factors will not interfere with teaching, and where there are no steps to walk up or down immediately before or after going through the doorway.

Progress to areas that have heavier self-closing doors, including those that lead to the outside. Gradually lead up to areas in which there is heavier pedestrian traffic.

Introduce the traveler to a variety of doors that have different handles to be located by the cane (i.e., bars, knobs, push plates) and doors on which the handles are in different positions (left/right, high/low). Also introduce the traveler to manual-closing doors and to doorways that have a step going either up or down immediately before or after the doorway.

Practice this technique in a variety of environments and travel situations that involve negotiating doors.

SKILLS

Self-Closing Doors

The standard method of negotiating self-closing doors when using a cane.

  1. Upon contacting a door, the traveler uses the CONTACTING & EXPLORING OBJECTS technique to walk up to an extended-arm distance from the door. He positions the cane vertically with its shaft flat against the door.
    • The crook of the cane, if present, should be positioned toward the traveler. This allows the cane shaft to lay flat against the door and ensures that the shaft will not pass over small doorknobs or handles without detecting them.
    • The traveler can apply slight pressure against the door while walking up to his cane. Unless the door is latched closed, doing so will tell the traveler whether the door opens by pulling or pushing and, if the latter, whether it opens to the right or to the left.
    • The extended arm distance places the traveler at a greater distance from the door and allows more time for him to react by moving away from the door should someone suddenly open it from the other side.
  2. Maintaining an extended-arm distance from the door, the traveler lifts the cane so that the tip is about 1 inch above the ground. He slides the cane left and right along the door to locate the doorknob (lifting the cane is especially important on carpeted floors or rough walking surfaces). If the traveler is unable to reach each side of a door (or if he contacts the wall and must search to each side to locate the door), he can transfer the cane from one hand to the other in order to further extend his reach.
    • Searching with the cane is more efficient than searching with one's hand because the cane covers a larger area. Using the cane also helps to protect the traveler's hand from getting caught in hinges or being injured on rough door parts.
    • If the doorknob or push bar are not located, the door may have a push plate which is flush with the face of the door (see Figure 9.01). The traveler can push gently on the door to determine whether it opens to the left or to the right.

      Figure 9.01
      This door has a push plate instead of a push bar.
  3. When the traveler locates the doorknob or push bar, he reaches for it with his free hand.
    • The traveler transfers the cane, if necessary, to the hand nearest the latch side and then slides his free hand down the cane shaft to locate the door handle.
    • The traveler may choose to "anchor" the cane shaft against the door handle or push bar before sliding his hand down the shaft to locate them. While travelers with good kinesthetic awareness may not feel the need to anchor the shaft in this way, other travelers may find that anchoring the shaft in this manner is the most efficient way to locate the door handle or push bar.
  4. The traveler opens the door.
  5. Using the SHORTENED CANE technique (Diagonal or Touch technique depending upon the environment and upon the traveler's familiarity with it), the traveler clears and walks through the doorway; he then returns the cane to his original hand, if necessary.

Manual-Closing Doors

The standard method of negotiating manual-closing doors when using a cane

The traveler performs the technique as described above for self-closing doors, but instead of letting the door swing closed behind him, he will need to locate the doorknob on the other side of the door and pull or push the door closed behind him.

Automatic Doors

To safely negotiate automatic doors when using a cane

Automatic doors are most often found in large public buildings such as grocery stores, hospitals, airports, and bus and train stations.

  1. In some areas the traveler can identify an automatic door by the feel of a mat under the cane tip or his feet. More and more, however, automatic doors do not have a mat, but are rather activated by pushing on a special plate that is mounted on a wall or on a post that is located a few feet in front, and to the side of, the door (see Figures 9.02a and 9.02b). Some doors are activated by a sensor that detects the presence of a pedestrian.

    Figure 9.02a
    Automatic doors can often be activated by pushing on a special plate that is mounted on a nearby wall.

    Figure 9.02b
    The special plate to activate an automatic door is sometimes found on a post that is located near the door.
    • Automatic doors may swing open or the doors may slide to the side. If the door swings open, it may be designed for one-way traffic (i.e., in vs. out). If the traveler contacts a door designed for pedestrian traffic moving in the opposite direction to his travel, the door may not open or he may perceive pedestrians approaching through that doorway. In this case, the traveler should step out of the way of oncoming pedestrians and then search with his cane to each side for a mat or a railing between the doors (see Figure 9.03) to indicate the location of the proper door for his direction of travel.

      Figure 9.03
      A railing is often located between automatic doors that are designed for one-way pedestrian traffic.
  2. The traveler pauses when he either steps on a mat, presses the activation plate, or hears the automatic door open. By pausing, the traveler avoids being hit by the door as it opens.
  3. After hearing the door open fully, the traveler continues walking forward using the appropriate cane technique.

COMMON ERRORS AND CORRECTIONS

Error:
The traveler searches for the door handle with his non-cane hand.

Correction:
The traveler should use his cane to locate the door handle. The cane can cover a larger area than the hand can cover. Using the cane also keeps the traveler's hand away from the hinge area (where it can be injured if the door opens unexpectedly).

Error:
The traveler keeps the cane tip anchored on the ground and moves the shaft of the cane in a fan-like motion in search of the door handle.

Correction:
Lifting the cane tip 1 inch above the ground and maintaining the cane in a vertical position while searching minimizes the possibility that the cane will miss the door handle.

Error:
The traveler fails to rotate a cane with a crook so that the shaft lays flat against the door before searching for the door handle.

Correction:
Laying the cane shaft flat against the door minimizes the possibility that the shaft will slide over the handle without detecting it.

Error:
The traveler stands less than an extended arm's distance from the door as he searches for the handle.

Correction:
Standing an extended arm's distance from the door as he searches for the handle minimizes the chances that the traveler's body will be hit by a pull door if it opens unexpectedly.

Error:
The traveler holds the cane in the DIAGONAL position when passing through a doorway in an unfamiliar area.

Correction:
The traveler should use the TOUCH technique when passing through a doorway in an unfamiliar area. This prevents him from bumping into objects or people on the other side of the doorway. The TOUCH technique is also the most reliable way to detect steps or other elevation changes at doorway thresholds.

Error:
The traveler fails to pause when he hears an automatic door open or when he steps on the mat.

Correction:
Pausing when hearing the door open or when stepping on the mat prevents the traveler from getting so close to the door that the door can hit him as it opens. It also gives the traveler time to listen for pedestrian traffic and to verify that the door is intended for use in his direction of travel—in some areas there may be two doors side by side, each designated for travel in only one direction.

NOTES FOR TEACHERS

RELATED TECHNIQUES

Revolving Doors*

* Knowing the DOORS WITH A CANE technique may help the traveler learn to "clear" with his cane before exiting a revolving door.



STAIRS WITH A CANE

PURPOSE

To ascend or descend stairs when using a cane

PREREQUISITE TECHNIQUES

Contacting & Exploring Objects with a Cane*
Diagonal
Stairs with a Cane & Guide**
Three-point (see section, Using the Handrail)
Touch
Touch & Drag (see section, Using the Handrail)

* The Contacting Objects portion of the CONTACTING & EXPLORING OBJECTS WITH A CANE technique is used when the traveler's cane contacts the first step. It enables her to maintain safe and effective cane contact with the first step as she walks up to it.

** Prior experience negotiating stairs using the STAIRS WITH A CANE & GUIDE technique may lessen the initial anxiety that some travelers feel when negotiating stairs without a guide.

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTS

Begin on a quiet, familiar or semi-familiar stairway that other pedestrians are not using at the time. The stairway should consist of

Progress next to negotiating a variety of stairs, including those with the features in the following list:

Gradually lead up to negotiating stairways that have increasing pedestrian congestion.

Practice this technique in a variety of environments that require the use of this skill (e.g., public buildings, schools, theaters, shopping centers, bus and train stations, boarding and disembarking city buses).

SKILLS

Using the Handrail

To locate the handrail before beginning to ascend or descend a set of stairs. (For use by travelers who need to use the handrail for support, or who wish to use it for any reason.)

After anchoring her cane and walking up to the first step, the traveler can reach her hand forward and to the side in a 45-degree vertical arc from her thigh to locate the railing (see Figure 10.01).

Figure 10.01
The traveler reaches her hand forward and to the side in a 45-degree vertical arc from her thigh to locate the railing.

Ascending Stairs

The standard method of negotiating ascending stairs when using a cane

  1. The traveler locates the riser of the first step by using the appropriate technique for the environment (e.g., TOUCH, TOUCH & DRAG, or TOUCH TRAILING).
  2. "Anchoring" the cane with the tip against the riser with the tip an inch or so above the ground as in the CONTACTING & EXPLORING OBJECTS technique, the traveler walks up to the first step. She should not contact the riser of the first step with her toes because it is unnecessary to do so and because it can potentially injure the toes in a traveler who has impaired circulation (e.g., diabetes).
    • When the traveler approaches the ascending stair riser, it is best to anchor the cane against the riser with the tip off of the ground. If the tip is on the ground, the traveler who pushes down on the cane can sometimes "anchor" the cane on the ground without contact with the riser—and get a false sense of the location of the first step. Sometimes the cane tip can be anchored in a sidewalk crack or in the carpet on the landing. By lifting the tip off the ground, the traveler will be certain that the riser has been accurately detected.
    • The traveler places the cane in a vertical or semi-vertical position and slides her hand down the cane shaft to a position slightly above waist height and walks up to the first step.
      • — Positioning the cane vertically in midline may facilitate a perpendicular approach to the base of the first step; positioning the cane semi-vertically may provide additional protection while ascending the stairs.
      • — Lowering her grasp on the shaft will reduce any strain on the shoulder joint when holding the cane in this position to climb the stairs.
      • — Many travelers prefer to hold the cane in the hand opposite the near wall as added insurance against having the cane tip trip other pedestrians. This is especially true for those who have difficulty keeping the cane tip positioned within their body width as they ascend or descend stairs.
  3. The traveler holds her cane vertically and slides the cane shaft left and right along the riser of the first step (a body width distance only) to verify that she is aligned perpendicularly to the stairs.
    • If the traveler is unfamiliar with the stairs, she can
      • — slide the cane up the first riser and place it onto the first step to determine the height of the steps;
      • — slide the cane forward from the edge of the first step to the second riser to determine the depth of the steps;
      • — slide the cane shaft left and right (body width only) along the riser of the second step to determine if the stairway is curved or irregular.
  4. The traveler positions the cane tip against the riser of the second or third step (depending on her height, arm length, and personal comfort), 1-2 inches below the nosing (see Figure 10.02). The traveler holds the cane either vertically or semi-vertically to ensure that the tip will be inside of her body width and won't trip other people. Her arm is parallel to the ground and her elbow is straight, but not locked.

    Figure 10.02
    The traveler positions the cane tip against the riser of the second or third step (depending upon her height, arm length, and personal preference).
  5. The traveler climbs the stairs, keeping her trunk erect and her weight forward over the balls of her feet for balance. As she climbs, the traveler maintains her cane arm straight and parallel to the floor. In this position, the forward and upward movement of her body will automatically position the cane tip to lightly contact the riser of each step, one or two stairs ahead of her.
    • While ascending the stairs, the traveler should maintain the cane tip at the same distance (one or two stairs) in front of her as she determined in step 4.
    • It is important for the traveler to keep her arm steady in the position described above so that only the cane tip contacts each riser just 1-2 inches below the lip of each step. Allowing her arm to drop will make it necessary to actively "lift" the cane to clear each step, thereby reducing the fluidity and efficiency of her movement; holding the cane too high (so that the cane tip does not contact the lip of each step) will prevent her from identifying the landing with her cane.
    • To keep the cane tip from "bouncing" against each riser, the traveler can put light forward pressure on the cane. Applying too little or too much pressure, however, can also make the tip bounce while ascending the stairs. Light contact will prevent the cane from making excessive noise as the tip contacts each riser.
  6. When the cane tip no longer contacts a riser, but swings forward instead, the traveler knows that the cane has reached the landing. The traveler then returns the cane to the TOUCH technique position by momentarily loosening her grasp on the cane and tossing it a few inches forward so the top of the grip is in line with her wrist (see Figures 10.03a-c). She "clears" the landing as she climbs the last one to two stairs (this number will match the number of stairs that the traveler holds the cane in front of her from step 4).

    Figures 10.03a, 10.03b and 10.03c
    After climbing the stairs, the traveler returns the cane to the TOUCH technique position by momentarily loosening her grasp on the cane and tossing it a few inches forward so the top of the grip is back in line with her wrist.
    • If possible, the traveler should "clear" by sweeping the cane from left-to-right or right-to-left so that she will reach the landing in-step for a smoother transition to the TOUCH technique.
    • After completing a flight of stairs, it is important that the traveler "clear" before moving forward, or she could miss objects, drop-offs, or additional stairs.
    • If the traveler has transferred the cane to her other hand to use the railing, she will need to return it to her usual cane hand upon reaching the landing.

Descending Stairs

The standard method of negotiating descending stairs when using a cane.

  1. The traveler approaches the stairs using the appropriate technique for the environment (e.g., TOUCH, TOUCH & SLIDE, or TOUCH & DRAG).
  2. The traveler locates the stairs by feeling when the cane tip drops over the edge of the first step.
    • If anticipating an imminent arrival at descending stairs, many travelers using TOUCH technique find that using the Constant Contact method most easily locates the edge of the first step.
  3. The traveler anchors the cane shaft in the midline position by pulling the tip back against the nosing of the top step and an inch or so above the tread below. She then walks up to it.
    • Anchoring her cane gives the traveler a reference point for the edge of the step as she walks up to it. It is important to have the cane tip not resting on the tread of the next step because this can give some travelers a false sense of exactly where the edge is located.
      • — If holding her cane in the Handshake Grasp, the traveler will need to rotate her arm inward (as though "looking" at a wristwatch) as she brings the cane to a vertical or semi-vertical position (see Figures 10.04a, b, and c); if she is holding her cane using the Pencil Grasp, she can simply walk up to the edge of the step.

        Figures 10.04a, 10.04b and 10.04c
        The traveler, using a Handshake Grasp, rotates her arm inward to bring the cane to a vertical or semi-vertical position and walks up to the cane.
      • — If the traveler has difficulty not overstepping the edge of the first step after she anchors the cane, it is often recommended that she use the Handshake Grasp. The rotated arm position of the Handshake Grasp makes it more physically awkward for the traveler to overstep where the cane is anchored.
  4. The traveler holds her cane vertically against the nosing of the first step and slides it from side to side approximately one body width to verify that she is aligned perpendicularly to the stairs.
    • Some travelers place their toes slightly over the edge of the top step to confirm that they are aligned perpendicularly. This is generally not recommended, however, because it can decrease the traveler's base of support and can make her more prone to losing her balance if she is bumped from behind.
    • If the traveler is unfamiliar with the stairs, she can
      • — slide the cane down and place the tip on the first step to determine the height of the steps;
      • — slide the cane forward to the edge of the second step to determine the depth of the steps;
      • — slide the cane tip left and right (body width only) along the nosing of the second step to determine if the stairway is curved or irregular.
  5. Holding the cane in the diagonal position, with the tip in front of her opposite foot, the traveler walks down the stairs.
    • The cane is positioned so that the tip is held 1-2 inches either above or ahead of the nosing of the second or third step below (depending on the cane length, height of the traveler, and stair dimensions; see Figure 10.05).

      Figure 10.05
      The traveler maintains the cane tip 1-2 inches ahead of the nosing of the first or second step below (depending on the height of the traveler and the cane length) as she walks down the stairs.
      • — Lowering the cane tip so that it contacts the tread of a lower step can cause that step to be mistaken for a landing.
      • — Raising the cane tip more than 1-2 inches above the nosings can cause the cane to miss the landing or to interfere with other people on the stairway.
    • The traveler keeps her head up and her trunk erect, and places her weight on her heels for optimum balance.
      • — Leaning her trunk backward (see Figure 10.06) can elevate her arm position and thereby alter the proper position of the cane.

        Figure 10.06
        Leaning the trunk backward beyond vertical can elevate the traveler's arm position.
    • The traveler places her arm at her side with her elbow straight, yet relaxed—bending the elbow excessively can draw the cane in and raise it too high to detect the landing (see Figure 10.07).

      Figure 10.07
      Bending the elbow excessively can raise the cane too high.
    • Many travelers prefer to hold the cane in the hand opposite the near wall as added insurance against having the cane tip trip other pedestrians. This is especially true for those who have difficulty keeping the cane tip positioned within their body width as they ascend or descend stairs.
  6. When the cane tip contacts the landing, the traveler returns the cane to the TOUCH technique position and "clears" the landing as she walks down the last one to two steps (this number will match the number of stairs that the traveler holds the cane in front of her from step 5).
    • If possible, the traveler should "clear" by sweeping the cane from left-to-right or right-to-left so that she will reach the landing in-step for a smoother transition to the TOUCH TECHNIQUE.
    • After completing a flight of stairs, it is important that the traveler "clear" before moving forward in order to detect objects, drop-offs, or additional stairs.
    • If the traveler has transferred the cane to her other hand to use the railing, she will need to return it to her usual cane hand upon reaching the landing.

Modifications.

In some situations (e.g., on irregular stairs, or when anxious or fearful on stairs), the traveler may prefer to contact each step with her cane as she descends. If so, the traveler may choose to use one of the following modifications:

COMMON ERRORS AND CORRECTIONS

Ascending Stairs

Error:
The traveler fails to hold the cane below the grip when ascending stairs.

Correction:
Holding the cane below the grip when climbing stairs enables the traveler to hold the cane in the proper position without placing undue stress on her shoulder joint. The traveler may hold the cane using either the handshake grasp or the pencil grasp.

Error:
The traveler holds the cane so that the tip does not contact each riser when ascending stairs.

Correction:
Holding the cane so that the tip contacts each riser enables the traveler to identify the location of the landing (when the cane tip fails to contact a riser).

Error:
The traveler places her toes against the riser of the first step to verify her alignment with the first ascending step.

Correction:
The traveler should use her cane to verify alignment. This enables her to most efficiently verify her perpendicular position to the stairs. Also, not all stairs have risers and travelers with health concerns (e.g., diabetes) may injure their toes by bumping them into risers.

Error:
The traveler fails to consistently keep the cane one to two steps ahead of her as she ascends the stairs.

Correction:
Keeping the cane consistently one to two steps ahead of her provides the traveler with sufficient time to react when the cane locates the landing or contacts objects in her path.

Error:
The traveler holds the cane in a semi-vertical position such that it covers her body width plus an inch on each side.

Correction:
The traveler should hold the cane in such a position that it covers no more than her body width. This ensures that the cane is not in the way of people passing on the stairs. The traveler can hold the cane either vertically or semi-vertically.

Error:
The traveler holds her cane with the tip pointing forward and upward. She holds her hand at waist-height and holds the tip 1-2 inches above the stairway as she ascends.

Correction:
The traveler should hold her cane in a vertical or semi-vertical position when ascending stairs. Pointing the cane upward and forward positions the cane where the tip will not detect the landing and where the cane may poke other people on the stairway.

Error:
The traveler stops and "clears" the landing when her cane first contacts it, then continues traveling.

Correction:
The traveler should "clear" the landing while she ascends or descends the last one to two steps. This enables her to continue travel without stopping, thereby preventing her from inadvertently blocking the movement of other people on the stairway.

Descending Stairs

Error:
The traveler approaches the stairs using the DIAGONAL technique with the cane tip on the ground.

Correction:
The traveler should use the TOUCH technique when approaching stairs. This ensures that the cane tip will detect the first step. The DIAGONAL technique may not position the cane tip to detect the first step, especially if the traveler approaches the stairs at an angle.

Error:
The traveler holds the cane below the grip when descending stairs.

Correction:
The traveler should not lower her grasp on the cane. Holding the cane at the top of the grip keeps the cane more fully extended for earlier detection of the landing and of objects that may be on the stairway.

Error:
The traveler allows the cane tip to rise more than 1-2 inches above the steps below when she is descending stairs using the Standard method.

Correction:
Maintaining the cane tip 1-2 inches above the steps (when using the Standard method) below ensures that the cane will detect the landing and will not poke people on the stairs.

Error:
The traveler allows the cane tip to drop below the position of 1-2 inches above the steps below when descending stairs using the Standard method.

Correction:
Maintaining the tip 1-2 inches above the stairs below (when using the Standard method) ensures that it will not contact a stair mid-flight that the traveler might interpret incorrectly to be the landing.

Error:
The traveler places the toes of one or both feet over the edge of the top step to verify her alignment.

Correction:
The traveler should use the cane to verify her perpendicular alignment to the stairs before walking down. Verifying her alignment prevents the traveler from descending the stairs at an angle and possibly tripping. It is generally not recommended that the traveler place her toes over the edge of the top step because this decreases her base of support at the top of the stairs and can lessen her stability if she is bumped from behind.

Error:
The traveler holds the cane pointing directly forward with her hand in midline as she descends the stairs.

Correction:
The traveler should hold the cane in the DIAGONAL position. This prevents the cane from poking her in the stomach when the cane contacts the landing or an unexpected object on the stairway.

Error:
The traveler fails to "clear" the landing before stepping on it.

Correction:
"Clearing" the landing before stepping on it enables the traveler to detect any objects on which she might trip.

Error:
The traveler allows her elbow to increasingly bend while descending stairs.

Correction:
Keeping her arm position constant keeps the cane tip 1-2 inches above the stairs below and ensures optimum detection of the landing. Allowing the elbow to bend can have the same effect as shortening the cane length and raising the tip, and thereby delay the traveler's detection of the landing.

Error:
The traveler intentionally taps the cane tip against the riser of each successive step while ascending stairs.

Correction:
The traveler should let the momentum of her body's forward movement move the cane forward against each step. It is not necessary to intentionally tap the cane against each riser, and doing so may make it contact the risers with excessive noise.

Error:
The traveler fails to use the TOUCH & DRAG technique along the edge of descending stairs when moving to the side of the stairway in order to find the railing.

Correction:
Using the TOUCH & DRAG technique ensures that the traveler will always know where the edge of the stairs is located and not overstep the edge or trip on something left on the ground along the top of the stairs as she moves to the side of the stairway in order to find the railing.

Error:
The traveler leans her trunk forward when descending stairs.

Correction:
The traveler should keep her trunk erect, not leaning forward when descending stairs. Leaning forward places her center of gravity forward and may make her more prone to falling, especially if bumped from behind.

NOTES FOR TEACHERS

RELATED TECHNIQUES

Street Crossing Mechanics*
City Bus Travel
Escalators With a Cane**

* Knowing the STAIRS WITH A CANE technique may help the traveler learn how to anchor the cane and walk up to a down-curb that she has contacted at the approach corner of an intersection and also to manipulate the cane when walking up to an up-curb that she has contacted at the destination corner.

** Knowing the STAIRS WITH A CANE technique may assist in learning how to position the cane on the steps when riding up or down escalators and how to "clear" with the cane when exiting.

NEGOTIATING OBSTACLES AND REORIENTATION

SIDEWALK RECOVERY

PURPOSE

To locate and return to one's travel path (e.g., on a public sidewalk) after veering into a driveway, perpendicular walkway, or parking lot. It can also be used to find the perpendicular sidewalk at a corner.

While this technique is described in terms of "sidewalk recovery," it equally applies to recovery from a veer off of any travel path.

PREREQUISITE TECHNIQUES

Contacting & Exploring Objects with a Cane*
Direction Taking**
Touch and Drag

* The Contacting Objects portion of the CONTACTING & EXPLORING OBJECTS WITH A CANE technique is used when the traveler's cane contacts a shoreline in front of her. It enables her to anchor the cane as she walks up to the shoreline, which she does in order to best position herself to next use her cane to locate the continuation of the public sidewalk.

** When recovering from an inadvertent veer off of the travel path, the traveler can use the DIRECTION TAKING technique to help establish either a parallel alignment with a shoreline that she contacts in front of her or to establish a perpendicular alignment to a shoreline that she contacts on her side. Doing so will often position her to follow the shortest route back to the public sidewalk.

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTS

Begin in a quiet, familiar residential area in which there are perpendicular driveways and paths that intersect the sidewalk. The sidewalk should be smooth, straight, and have a distinct and regular shoreline (e.g., grass, bushes).

Progress next to a quiet, familiar residential area that has wider intersecting driveways or open spaces (e.g., gas stations or parking lots) adjacent to the sidewalk.

Lead up to areas that have less distinct or less regular shorelines (e.g., more turns and curves in the sidewalk).

Finally, progress to unfamiliar areas and those with increasing amounts of pedestrian congestion.

Note: In each type of environment, include practice in areas with parkways and in areas without parkways.

SKILLS

Standard

A systematic method for relocating the travel path and returning to it after a veer.

  1. The traveler stops walking when she feels her cane tip contact a shoreline (e.g., grass, bushes, fence) in front of her.
  2. Keeping her feet stationary so as not to lose her alignment, the traveler slides her cane along the edge of the shoreline to determine its precise location and her relative alignment to it. Upon determining that she has actually veered off of the sidewalk (and not just contacted the shoreline of the sidewalk), the traveler can "square-off" her toes to the shoreline to establish a perpendicular alignment to it. This sometimes assists with re-establishing orientation to her original line of travel.

    Hint: The direction that the traveler needs to turn in order to square off her toes to the grass is usually the direction she needs to go in order to relocate the sidewalk. For example, if she needs to turn slightly to the right to square off her toes to the shoreline, then the sidewalk is generally on her right side.
  3. The traveler reaches her cane forward and sweeps it in a 45- to 90-degree arc to each side (if necessary) to locate the original sidewalk (see Figure 11.01). It does not matter which side the traveler checks first, but if she is uncertain as to which way she has veered from a public sidewalk (i.e., towards or away from the parallel street), the traveler might want to check toward the parallel street side first since most veers are away from the street.

    Figure 11.01
    The traveler reaches her cane forward and sweeps it 45-90 degrees to each side (if necessary) to locate the original sidewalk.
    • To increase the distance that the cane can reach to each side, the traveler can switch the cane from one hand to the other, holding the cane in the hand nearest the side toward which she is reaching.
    • In rare instances, the traveler may contact a shoreline in front of her and detect a sidewalk that appears to be going equally forward on both sides of the shoreline (for example if she contacts the corner of a yard where a driveway meets the sidewalk). If the traveler is unsure which one is the original travel path, she can take one step forward either closer to, or onto, the shoreline and sweep her cane to both sides. The original sidewalk will often become more obvious (see Figures 11.02a and 11.02b).

      Figures 11.02a and 11.02b
      Taking one step forward onto the shoreline can help the traveler determine which path is going in her original direction.


      • — If the traveler locates the original sidewalk, she simply moves to it and resumes travel. If she encounters an obstacle in her path, she can walk around it using either the TOUCH TRAILING or TOUCH & DRAG technique.
      • — If the traveler does not locate the original sidewalk, she follows the shoreline toward the parallel street using the TOUCH & DRAG technique until she locates the sidewalk.

        If the traveler does not wish to follow the shoreline to find the sidewalk, she may choose to move directly to the parallel street and then search for the original sidewalk. If she does so, the traveler should use the TOUCH & SLIDE or TOUCH (Constant Contact) technique to best detect the street edge at the bottom of the driveway where there may be no definite curb (see "If the traveler locates the street before locating the original sidewalk," below). This is not recommended, however, in unfamiliar areas, or in areas where it may be difficult to detect the street edge (e.g., driveway surfaces that blend into the street).

        Note: The parallel street provides a reference point when systematically searching for the sidewalk. The traveler should always know the location of the parallel street.

        In some environments, clues such as the cracks that border many sidewalks or the leveling of pavement, may assist the traveler to locate the original travel path without following a shoreline and without going all the way to the street.
    • If the traveler locates the street before locating the original sidewalk, she turns to face away from the parallel street and uses the TOUCH & DRAG technique along the edge of the parkway to locate the original travel path.
      • Note: Turning completely away from the street is generally the most direct route back to the original sidewalk. If she wishes, the traveler may square-off with the curb to help her establish a straight line of travel back to the original sidewalk.
  4. Upon locating the original sidewalk, the traveler turns and resumes travel.

To Locate the Intersecting Sidewalk at a Corner

Following the parkway.

In areas where parkways are present, this is a systematic method for locating the intersecting sidewalk at a corner by first moving around any parkway that may be present between the intersecting sidewalk and the street.

Note: Some travelers find that staying in contact with a shoreline helps them to remain oriented.

  1. Upon reaching the curb at the corner, the traveler turns 90 degrees to face away from the parallel street and clears with her cane to locate the intersecting sidewalk (see Figure 11.03).

    Figure 11.03
    The traveler turns to face away from the parallel street and clears with her cane to locate the intersecting sidewalk.
    • If the traveler locates the sidewalk, she simply resumes travel in the desired direction.
    • If the traveler contacts a parkway, she makes another 90-degree turn to face away from the street that was perpendicular to her original line of travel and follows the parkway using the TOUCH & DRAG technique to locate the intersecting sidewalk. The traveler then resumes travel in the desired direction (see Figure 11.04).

      Figure 11.04
      If she contacts a parkway, the traveler makes another 90-degree turn and follows the edge of the parkway to locate the intersecting sidewalk.

180-degree turn.

A simple and efficient method for locating the intersecting sidewalk at a corner in areas with parkways. This method also works especially well in small business and downtown environments where sidewalks are wider and the traveler wishes to locate the middle section of the sidewalk (away from the curb).

Some travelers prefer this skill because it can be generalized to most environments including small business areas where there are poles along the curb edge and residential areas where there may or may not be parkways.

  1. Upon reaching the curb at the corner, the traveler turns around, placing the perpendicular street at her back.
  2. The traveler takes two to three steps, then turns in the desired direction to continue her travel, and clears to verify that she has located the intersecting sidewalk (see Figure 11.05).

    Figure 11.05
    The traveler faces away from the perpendicular street and takes two to three steps, then turns to locate the intersecting sidewalk.
    • If the traveler locates the sidewalk, she resumes her travel.
    • If the traveler detects a parkway or other obstacle, she again turns away from the perpendicular street, takes three more steps, then turns and clears again. She repeats this procedure until she locates a clear path.

Modification.

In areas that are known to have blended curbs or curb ramps that may be difficult to detect, the traveler may choose to use the TOUCH & DRAG technique to follow the inside shoreline as she approaches the corner. Doing so will help the traveler to ensure that she will locate the intersecting sidewalk and not inadvertently step into the street. Some travelers actually prefer this strategy as the most efficient method of locating the intersecting sidewalk at a corner when they plan to turn at the corner instead of crossing the street.

Regaining Line of Travel

An effective method to regain one's line of travel following unintended contact with the side of the travel path. It is often used to maintain on-course travel when walking along a path with a discernible border (e.g., curb or grass line) along at least one of its sides.

Note: Most travelers find it difficult to walk in a perfectly straight line without ever veering toward the border on one side or the other of the travel path. This skill provides a simple means of making quick, in-course recoveries when the traveler contacts a shoreline on the side of the travel path.

It can be used in both indoor and outdoor settings whether or not the traveler is using a cane.

  1. When her cane contacts a shoreline on the side of the path (e.g., a grass line), the traveler turns her trunk in the desired direction of travel and continues walking. This small amount of turning is generally enough to correct minor veering. Turning both the trunk and feet in the new direction often over-compensates for a minor veer.
    • Some travelers may need to stop walking, rotate their trunk and then continue travel; more experienced travelers will often make this adjustment while on the move.
    • Sidestepping away from the shoreline will generally not correct the traveler's line of travel, but will only cause her to contact the shoreline again a few steps later. In addition, sidestepping can look awkward, and if the traveler has not cleared to the side with her cane first, it can be unsafe.

COMMON ERRORS AND CORRECTIONS

Error:
Upon encountering a shoreline in front of her, the traveler fails to keep her feet in one position while using her cane to search for the sidewalk.

Correction:
Keeping her feet in one position helps the traveler to maintain a general sense of direction while searching for the original sidewalk.

Error:
After failing to find the sidewalk after searching with her cane in one direction, the traveler turns and begins walking.

Correction:
The traveler should search with her cane to both sides, if necessary, before turning. This minimizes the chance that she will miss the desired path when it actually may be nearby.

Error:
After failing to find the sidewalk after searching with her cane in both directions, the traveler turns away from the parallel street and begins walking.

Correction:
After failing to locate the sidewalk with a sweep of her cane to each side, the traveler should first walk toward the street to most efficiently locate a constant landmark for orientation (e.g., the street). Walking away from the street increases the likelihood of encountering further obstacles and hazards potentially found on private property and may make it more difficult for some travelers to maintain their orientation.

NOTES FOR TEACHERS

RELATED TECHNIQUES

Gas Stations



OBSTACLES IN THE TRAVEL PATH

PURPOSE

To negotiate obstacles in the travel path

PREREQUISITE TECHNIQUES

Contacting & Exploring Objects With a Cane*
Three Point***
Touch
Touch & Drag**
Touch Trailing**
Upper Hand & Forearm***

* The Contacting Objects portion of the CONTACTING & EXPLORING OBJECTS WITH A CANE technique may be used when the traveler's cane contacts the obstacle. It enables her to position the cane properly if she chooses to walk up to the obstacle in preparation to search for a clear path on the side of the obstacle.

** If the traveler encounters an obstacle in her walking path, she can use either the TOUCH & DRAG or TOUCH TRAILING techniques to follow around the obstacle and then resume her desired line of travel.

*** The traveler may need to use the UPPER-HAND & FOREARM (Modified) technique when contacting or trailing vehicles, negotiating construction areas, and/or walking across grassy areas. At cluttered construction sites she may find it easiest to step down into the street, if safe, and to follow the curb using the THREE-POINT technique until she has cleared the construction area, then return to the sidewalk and resume travel.

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTS

Begin in a quiet, familiar, indoor hallway with obstacles that partially obstruct the travel path. Introduce obstacles with flat sides before introducing round or irregular obstacles. Initially, moving around obstacles with flat sides will help the traveler to maintain her line of travel.

Gradually introduce obstacles that are round or irregular in shape.

Progress to negotiating obstacles that fully obstruct the travel path. Sidewalks along quiet residential streets provide room for the traveler to move around obstacles that block the path by momentarily stepping off of the sidewalk either on the side away from the street or on the side toward the street.

Lead up to performing this technique in unfamiliar outdoor areas with increasing amounts of pedestrian congestion and street traffic.

Practice this technique in a variety of indoor (e.g., school or office buildings, grocery stores) and outdoor (e.g., residential neighborhoods, small business and downtown) environments.

SKILLS

Standard

A safe method for moving around obstacles that block the travel path

  1. Upon contacting an obstacle, the traveler walks up to it using the CONTACTING & EXPLORING OBJECTS technique or simply pauses.
    • Some travelers who have good orientation and environmental awareness may choose to proceed directly to the next step rather than walk up to the object using the CONTACTING & EXPLORING OBJECTS technique.
  2. The traveler uses her cane to "clear" on each side of the obstacle in an effort to locate the continuation of the travel path (see Figures 12.01a and 12.01b).

    Figures 12.01a and 12.01b
    The traveler "clears" on each side of the obstacle to locate the original travel path.
    • If the traveler locates the path, she walks around the obstacle using the appropriate cane technique.
    • If the traveler does not locate the original travel path, she turns to one side and trails the object to its end using the TOUCH TRAILING or TOUCH & DRAG technique (see Figure 12.02).

      Note: When walking on a public sidewalk in residential or business areas, the traveler is generally least likely to encounter additional obstacles if she travels around the obstacle on the parallel street side.

      Figure 12.02
      The traveler trails to locate the end of the object to walk around it and continue travel.
  3. Upon reaching the end of the object, the traveler turns, and then either projects and follows a straight line of travel in her original direction, or she can continue to trail around the object to a point on the other side that is opposite where she initially contacted the obstacle. She would then turn and resume her original line of travel.

COMMON ERRORS AND CORRECTIONS

Error:
The traveler fails to use the TOUCH TRAILING technique as she walks around the obstacle.

Correction:
Using the TOUCH TRAILING or TOUCH & DRAG technique enables the traveler to most efficiently locate the clear path at the end of the obstacle while obtaining optimum forward protection with her cane.

Error:
The traveler fails to check both sides for a clear path before walking around the obstacle.

Correction:
Checking both sides for a clear path before walking around the obstacle minimizes any chance that the traveler will miss a nearby clear path.

NOTES FOR TEACHERS

In unfamiliar areas or construction zones, it is often recommended to use the UPPER HAND & FOREARM technique (Modified) when moving around objects so as to avoid collisions with head-high obstacles such as scaffolding.

RELATED TECHNIQUES

Approach (Street Crossings)
Areas Without Sidewalks
Vehicles in the Crosswalk
Vehicles in the Travel Path



VEHICLES IN THE TRAVEL PATH

PURPOSE

To move around vehicles that are parked across the traveler's path. Such vehicles are often parked in driveways and either partially or fully block the sidewalk.

PREREQUISITE TECHNIQUES

Contacting & Exploring Objects with a Cane*
Obstacles in the Travel Path
Touch Trailing
Upper Hand & Forearm (Modified)

*The Contacting Objects portion of the CONTACTING & EXPLORING OBJECTS WITH A CANE technique may be used when the traveler's cane contacts the vehicle. It enables her to position the cane properly if she chooses to walk up to the vehicle in preparation to locate a clear path beside the vehicle.

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTS

Begin in a quiet, residential area where there is minimal, if any, traffic on the parallel street. Introduce the traveler to a variety of situations in which the vehicle is parked partially across the sidewalk, is parked fully across the sidewalk, and when one end of it protrudes into a traffic lane. Such situations provide opportunities to practice making judgments as to whether to walk around the vehicle on the street side or on the side away from the street.

Provide opportunities for the traveler to move around a variety of vehicles including cars of varying sizes, trucks, minivans, SUVs, etc.

Progress next to areas that have increased traffic on the parallel street.

Practice this technique whenever the opportunity naturally occurs in travel.

SKILLS

Standard

A safe method for moving around parked vehicles that block the travel path

  1. When the traveler's cane contacts a vehicle across her travel path, she stops a distance of about one step from the vehicle. Using auditory information (e.g., the sound made by her cane as it contacts the vehicle) and/or tactile information transmitted through the cane, the traveler identifies whether the vehicle is a car, van, or truck.
  2. The traveler reaches to each side with her cane to see if she can locate the continuation of the sidewalk. If so, she may choose to simply walk around the vehicle on that side.
  3. If the traveler does not locate the continuation of the sidewalk, she then turns toward the parallel street and carries out one of the following options:
    • If the vehicle partially blocks the sidewalk, the traveler walks to the end of the vehicle using the TOUCH TRAILING technique, then turns and projects a straight line of travel in her original direction.
    • If the vehicle totally blocks the sidewalk, the traveler uses the TOUCH TRAILING technique to walk around the end of the vehicle to a point on its opposite side (e.g., door, tire) that corresponds to where she initially contacted the vehicle. She then turns and resumes traveling in her original direction. (Note: The traveler should not depend on "squaring off" from the vehicle to reestablish her line of travel because the vehicle may not be parked at a right angle to the sidewalk.)

      Notes:

    • Moving around a vehicle on the side nearest the parallel street side is generally easiest because there is less likelihood of encountering additional obstacles than on the building side of a driveway. If the vehicle is parked so that it extends far enough into the street to put the traveler dangerously close to traffic, however, she should reverse direction and trail around the vehicle on the other side.
      • — If a traveler lacks the judgment or ability to reliably determine whether or not it is safe to walk around a vehicle on the parallel street side (without getting in the path of moving traffic), then it might be advisable for that traveler to always trail around the vehicle toward the building side despite any increased potential to encounter obstacles.
    • When trailing around a van or truck, the traveler should use the UPPER HAND & FOREARM technique (Modified) to protect her face from contact with such things as protruding side mirrors and bike racks (see Figure 13.01). Using her cane in the hand nearest the vehicle and performing the UPPER HAND & FOREARM (Modified) technique with the opposite arm will provide the best protection by placing that palm in position to contact any protruding mirrors, etc.

      Figures 13.01
      The traveler uses the UPPER HAND & FOREARM technique (Modified) to protect her face from contact with protruding side mirrors when trailing around a van or truck.
      Or, some travelers choose to maintain a slightly greater distance from the vehicle when trailing around it by widening their cane arc. Doing so may eliminate the need to use the UPPER HAND & FOREARM (Modified) technique.
    • Some skilled travelers can walk around a vehicle using the TOUCH technique instead of TOUCH TRAILING, relying on distance estimation and/or reflected sound to monitor their proximity to the vehicle. This is not recommended, however, if the traveler must walk into a street where traffic might be present.
    • If the traveler encounters a vehicle with its engine running, she should step back and wait for the vehicle to turn off its engine or move out of the way before continuing.
      • — With the advent of electric and hybrid automobiles, it is often not possible to hear any engine noise when such a vehicle is idling. Travelers must use extreme caution before walking around a vehicle encountered in the travel path.

COMMON ERRORS AND CORRECTIONS

Error:
The traveler walks around the vehicle on the parallel street side even though the vehicle protrudes significantly into the street.

Correction:
Walking around the vehicle on the building side when the vehicle protrudes significantly into the parallel street prevents the traveler from getting too close to moving traffic on the street.

Error:
The traveler makes physical contact with a vehicle in a driveway when its engine is running.

Correction:
The traveler should never contact a vehicle in a driveway when its engine is running, but should either wait until the vehicle moves out of the way or until the driver turns off the motor. This ensures that the vehicle will not start moving while she is walking around it.

Error:
The traveler fails to hold her arm in the UPPER HAND & FOREARM (Modified) position when trailing closely around a van or truck.

Correction:
Holding her arm in the UPPER HAND & FOREARM (Modified) position protects the traveler from bumping her face into the side mirrors when moving around a van or truck.

Error:
The traveler fails to maintain contact with the vehicle when walking in the street as she moves around it.

Correction:
Maintaining contact with the vehicle by using the TOUCH TRAILING technique while walking in the street prevents the traveler from moving too far into the street and possibly into the path of moving vehicles.

Error:
After walking around a vehicle, the traveler "squares-off" to it to regain her line of direction.

Correction:
The traveler should not "square-off" from the vehicle in case it is parked at an angle. Doing so might align her to veer off of the travel path.

NOTES FOR TEACHERS

RELATED TECHNIQUES

Areas Without Sidewalks
Vehicles in the Crosswalk

REFERENCES

Blasch, B., & De l'Aune, B. (1992). A computer profile of mobility coverage and a safety index. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 86, 249-254.

Hill, E. & Ponder, P. (1976). Orientation and mobility techniques: A guide for the practitioner. New York: American Foundation for the Blind.

Jacobson, W. (1993). The art and science of teaching orientation and mobility to persons with visual impairments. New York: American Foundation for the Blind.

LaGrow, S., & Weessies, M. (1994). Orientation and mobility: Techniques for independence. New Zealand: The Dunmore Press Limited.



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