Tip of the Day #19 – High Contrast Light Switch

Video Demonstration of a High Contrast Light Switch

Locating light switches can be challenging for someone who is visually impaired or low vision due to the poor color contrast of many light switches with the walls behind them. The one-color combo that I see quite a bit is white light switches placed on white walls essentially blending the two. For someone who has low vision or is visually impaired the simple act of adding contrast may be just what they need to make locating light switches just a little bit easier.

White light switch on a white wall with shadow streaks over it.

I have found adding high contrast to a light switch to be especially helpful for older adults with low vision who are struggling with memory issues. It can be challenging for them to remember exactly where the light switch is located on the wall. By making their light switches easier to see through contrast remembering exactly where the light switches are isn’t as critical.

There are so many creative ways to achieve contrast on light switches and what I’m sharing today is just one of many ideas.

By simply adding high contrast tape around a light switch one can achieve good color contrast. Tape is very versatile, it comes in so many different colors and designs, it is cheap and easy to apply.

For a full video demonstration you can click here.

I hope this tip of the day was helpful. If you are interest in my full list of my tip of the day blogs and videos click here.

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How to Walk “In-Step” With a White Cane

Video Demonstration of Walking “In-Step”

Being able to walk “in-step” while using a white cane is a critical safety skill that provides the cane user the most amount of reaction time possible when detecting an object or drop-off with the cane. When walking “in-step” the person’s reaction time is equal to one full step or stride length. However, when walking “out-of-step” that reaction time is cut in half. Having the extra reaction time of a full step can mean the difference between safely avoiding a drop-off or an obstacle or not.

Walking “in-step” can be performed using both two-point touch or constant contact cane techniques depending on a person’s preference. When walking “in-step” it is important to note that the cane speed or how fast the cane moves side to side should be determined by a persons walking pace and not the other way around.

Before performing this skill it is important for the cane user to be able to maintain proper wrist, arm, and hand positions, as well as perform constant arc width.

Step-by-Step Guide

STEP 1: Establish which foot you will be stepping with first.

man standing in front of a white garage door while holding a white cane. Red circle around his left shoe

STEP 2: Place the cane tip in front of the established foot from step 1

man standing in front of a white garage holding a cane out in front of him with a red arrow around the tip of the cane

STEP 3: Begin moving by stepping forward with the established foot while simultaneously sweeping the cane in the opposite direction.

man in front of a white garage stepping forward  with one foot and sweeping a white cane at the same time

STEP 4: The stepping foot should strike the ground at the same time the cane arc ends on the opposite side of the body

man in front of a white garage completing a step forward with one foot and cane tip on the ground on the opposite side. red circle around left foot and red circle around cane tip on the right side

STEP 5: Step with the next foot and sweep the cane back in the opposite direction, again aiming to have the foot strike the ground and the cane reach the end of its arc at the same time

Man in front of a white garage taking a step with a red circle around the right foot and another red circle around the cane tip.

STEP 6: Continue this pattern for the duration of the trip

Learning to walk “in-step” takes practice and does not come naturally for most people. I highly recommend spending the time to learn and develop this skill especially for safety. The more it is practiced the easier it will become until it eventually becomes second nature.

Please reach out to an Orientation & Mobility Specialist if you have questions or need assistance in learning this skill.

For a full step-by-step video demonstration click here

For more white cane tutorial videos you can visit my tutorial page here

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Please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email at blindonthemove@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Tip of the Day #18 – How to Fold a White Cane That is Stuck Open

Have you ever had a hard time folding your white cane after using it? Does it seem to stay stuck open no matter how hard you try and pull the joints apart? If you answered yes to any of these questions please continue on to learn four different solutions to help make folding a white cane a little easier.

In today’s tip of the day, I will be sharing with you four different solutions to help with folding a white cane that is stuck open. There is no particular order in how to use these different solutions and more then one can be used at a time.

blackboard with a light bulb resting on it. surrounded by chalk think bubble

For a review of the parts of a folding white cane click here

Solution #1 – Tap the cane tip on the ground

This is an easy solution and I have seen many people be successful when performing it. All you need to do is tap the cane tip on the ground before folding the cane. This will help loosen the joints up a little making it easier to pull the cane apart.

When tapping the cane tip the goal is to find the balance between how hard to tap. It should not be tapped so hard that the cane tip or cane breaks and not too soft that nothing happens. Finding the sweet spot is important.

For a video demonstration of this solution in action click here.

Solution #2 – Twist the cane in opposite directions when separating at the joint

When folding up the cane if you come across a joint that is stuck, instead of trying to just separate the joint like usual, add a twisting motion as well.  One hand turns clockwise and pulls on one side of the joint and the other hand pulls and twist counterclockwise on the other side of the joint. The twisting motion is helpful in loosening up the joint making it easier to separate.

black and white clock sitting on a table with a man looking at it with his hands outstretched around it

For a video demonstration of this solution in action click here.

Solution #3 – Add a lubricant

This can be a helpful solution if the first two solutions are not working very well. Adding a lubricant to the joints of the cane can help make them easier to separate and fold. I have heard of people using Vaseline, various cooking oils, WD40, among others. And to be honest I’m not sure which one works the best. If you have tried this and have a preference please feel free to add it in the comments below. I would love to hear your feedback.

Solution #4 – Get a cane made with a different material

One thing I have noticed as an instructor and have heard from many of my clients is that the material the cane is made of makes a difference in how easy it is to fold a cane. This is anecdotal and not based on any specific scientific research. However, from my experience, it seems that aluminum canes tend to get stuck more often and are harder to fold than other materials. Graphite canes tend to be easier to fold and get stuck less often. Switching a cane to another material may be a good solution if some of the other solutions aren’t working for you.

I hope this tip of the day was helpful. If you are interest in my full list of my tip of the day blogs and videos click here.

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