I was riding on the subway on Monday, November 3, 2014 mulling over the needs of children with visual impairment and blindness. The early education teachers needed the children to have concrete experiences in order to develop concepts. The preschool teachers needed them to be more social, for example walk over to a friend and start a conversation. The physical education teacher needed them to enjoy the benefits of running. What did all these needs have in common?
Safe, self-confident mobility
Toddlers who are blind and mobility visually impaired have one thing in common, the inability to achieve safe, self-confident mobility because they cannot see well enough to avoid sudden collisions. Therefore, they need a cane in order to develop gross motor, concept, language and social skill goals.
I thought, if only there was a long cane that was compatible with their abilities. What would a developmentally appropriate long cane look like? How could we make a long cane that babies didn’t have to be responsible for and would give them the information and safety they needed to achieve their developmental milestone potential?
My first thought was a hoop skirt that touched the ground 360 degrees. Yet, truly what they needed was information specifically about the path of their next step. That was when we began the search for a design that would allow toddlers to have all the features of a white cane, but in toddler form.