Bright vs White.

There is an interesting debate in the visually impaired world as to whether a cane (the long white metal object used by visually impaired people to get around safely), should stay white or be colourful to represent a persons’ individuality.

Here are the arguments I have come across:

For:

  • People should be allowed to show their individuality.
  • a cane should be seen as an accessory as well as an aid.
  • Visually impaired people will feel more comfortable using a cane if it is coloured.
  • Those that already own a coloured cane have received compliments on their colourful/ sparkly cane.
  • If having canes in different colours encourages children to use them, adults/ parents are more welcoming of it.
  • Having a coloured cane extinguishes the prejudice of the stereotypical blind person.
  • People are too busy in their daily thoughts that they barely pay attention to a person using a cane in the first place. – Changing colour would make no difference to the public’s ignorance.
  • People recognise the cane for what it is, and the action in which it is used.
  • Coloured handle/ grip and ball, but the main part should stay white. It gives individuality while still being a universal symbol.

Against:

  • White is the Universal colour of canes to represent to the public that a person has limited or no vision.
  • White canes with red strips signal visual and hearing impairment.
  • Changing the colour would then not distinguish hearing impairments either.
  • Having different colours means the public will not know what each colour represents, this can therefore confuse the public.
  • The public can barely differentiate between a standard cane and a red and white one.
  • A white cane is part of the universal symbol to the public, it is also part of the highway code.
  • If the colour were to change, would drivers take notice, and respect the person?
  • If the highway code says to respect a white cane, to change it could potentially make the blind person liable, not the driver/ foot passenger, if an accident were to happen.
  • Visually impaired people may not get the support from the public, that we sometimes need.
  • If it were to change, would the public be aware?
  • Public may not be as ready to offer help because they see it as a cool gadget/ accessory.

Looking at the arguments for and against, it all seems to come down to personal preference, whether to accessorise a cane or not essentially it’s a case of what each person deems as a priority.
Do they want to look snazzy, safe, or both?




Personally if there was an option of changing the grip colour and ball/ tip and keeping the body of the cane white, I would probably go for that option. For me I am an individual, and it would be nice to show my individuality, with something I see as an extension of me.
However I do not agree with having coloured canes as a whole. Maybe for young children first learning to use a cane but I believe that as the white cane is a universal symbol,, it should stay that way.
I do agree that generally the public are too caught up in their own busy lives to really notice that you, as a visually impaired person, are even using a cane. But to me, white is the brightest colour, can be seen the furthest distance away, and is also the most reflective.

What would you choose?
Individuality, accessory or just plain and simple safety?

I would love to know your thoughts in the comments!

Much love,
Sassy x


10 comments on “Bright vs White: The Cane Debate”

  1. I love this post and both sides of the argument are really interesting! I used to use a coloured cane when I was younger but went back to using the standard white cane. Like you, I would change the grip and the ball of the cane to a different colour. Great post as always! xxx

    • Hey,.
      I learn something new about you everyday! Is there any particular reason you chose to go bak to the standard cane?
      Yes it’s a very interesting debate. I can definitely see both sides 🙂 xxx

    • Hey Nia,
      Thanks for your input 🙂 as someone that’s into making things beautiful, i’m not surprised you would suggest making the cane look good too 🙂 xxx

  2. I think a universal white cane is the way forward. Maybe a change in colour for the grip for personality sakes. Surely changing to different colours brings in some safety elements for getting around. General public mistaking the coloured cane for something else? Keep it white.

  3. I agree with you that perhaps being able to accessorise the ball or something but leaving the cane white is best as I would worry that people may not recognise it’s purpose if you lose the symbolism. I can see why people would like coloured ones though!

  4. I think it would be nice if the user of any adaptive equipment could choose the color. You make the valid point that drivers will, hopefully, recognize a white cane. Sad, isn’t it, that a driver might see a person using a green cane for mobility and not recognize that the user is finding his/her way.

  5. Such an interesting post Sassy!
    Had never thought about this before – really bad of me…
    I am with you, I think it’s important that people can tell from your cane what your impairment is but on the same hand, white is totally not everyones colour and you should be allowed to jazz it up a bit. The grip and the thed sounds like a super idea.
    x

  6. I like the Coloured handle/ grip and ball option, but agree that the main body should remain mainly white. As a cane user another colour of cane wouldn’t stand out to me and I’d walk right into it. The public have a hard enough time recognising the white cane or red/white cane for deaf/blind without confusing the issue further with a variety of colours of cane.

  7. There are a number of significant points which don’t appear to have been made at all.

    Firstly, people who need to express their individuality via their cane. So, not via their hair; jewellery; clothes; shoes; bag etc? Not by their tastes or conversation? I’m not sure what a coloured cane tells someone about your individuality that they can’t deduce from the latter too and if it’s not someone you’re going to be engaged in conversation with then why would you be bothered what they thought of you anyway? The speed with which you can collide with people going about their business even with a white cane should be a big indicator as to how little people care about your individuality. They simply don’t have the time to see it or care. Why make that worse?

    Secondly, this discussion has focused on navigation canes. Most people get what a navigation cane is because they can see it in use even if they don’t understand the mechanics. Few people understand what a symbol or identification cane is. There’s no standard design beyond colour and there’s no training required or defined way or using. Most people think it’s a navigation cane and get very confused when you don’t appear to be navigating with it.

    If colour is the only distinguishing thing about it then personally I’ll stick with white every time.

    Thirdly, and I think this is a significant omission and might perhaps take the debate beyond “it’s probably a personal choice”. I don’t think it is.

    White canes are white for a reason. There will be the odd exception but few of us wear white trousers or shoes and little out in the street is white. If you want to be visible then a white cane is the way. Go get a red one. It simply won’t stand out suffciently against your blue jeans; pink flesh or grey work trousers. Try some other colours. Same issue. Add some decoration. People will think you’re a dandy. They won’t think you’ve not seen them nor their shipping trolley; child; bicycle or car.

    Okay to a coloured handle. I can’t see a problem with that but the rest is positively dangerous. I’d rather focus on educating people as to what the cane is than on something that makes me less visible; more vulnerable and so on.

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