How to Safely Navigate Through Closed Doors With a White Cane

Being able to safely navigate through closed doors using a white cane is a critical skill that all white cane users should be able to perform. Safety is paramount when it comes to Orientation & Mobility. If a person with visual impairment does not take necessary precautions to ensure a safe passage through a doorway, they could face significant injury. Basement stairs, objects or obstacles behind the door, or even people standing behind the door are some examples of hazards that may be encountered on the other side. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to safely pass through a close doorway using a white cane.

Step-by-Step Guide

STEP 1: Locate and contact the door with the cane

man holding a white cane contacting a brown door

Step 2: Anchor the cane by resting the cane tip where the door and floor meet

zoomed in picture of a white cane anchored against a door with a red circle around it

STEP 3: Raise the cane up vertical against the door (straight up and down) and in the process switch to pencil grip

hand holding a white cane using pencil grip and raising the cane vertical to the door

STEP 4: Keep arm’s length away from the door to prevent getting hit with an opening door

man holding a white cane vertically arms length away from a brown door

STEP 5: Lift cane up off the ground slightly aiming for one to two inches.

man lifting a white cane several inches off the ground with a red arrow around the cane tip

STEP 6: Move the cane horizontally (left and right) to locate the door knob

man sweeping a white cane left on a door to find a door knob

STEP 7: Find the cane with the free hand then slide that hand down the cane to locate the door knob

man holding a white cane in front of a brown door
man reaching out for a door knob while holding a white cane in the opposite hand

STEP 8: Open the door making sure to give enough space for the door to fully open

man holding a white cane opening a brown door to the basement

STEP 9: Sweep the cane in the area you are about to walk to make sure it is clear and safe to proceed though the doorway

man sweeping a cane in an open door finding a set of descending stairs

This is a critical Orientation & Mobility skill and I highly recommend practicing this skill until it becomes second nature every time a closed door is passed through. 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 tutorial click here

For more White Cane Tutorials you can visit my tutorial page here.

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Tip of the Day #17 – Finding Door Knobs

In today’s tip of the day, I will be sharing with you a systematic and easy way to locate doorknobs or door handles if you are blind or visually impaired. It can be challenging and frustrating to locate doorknobs, especially on new unfamiliar doors if you are unable to see them. But by adding this simple approach, locating the doorknobs won’t be such a pain.

silver doorknob and lock on black door

Click here for a full tutorial video

Here is What You Do

When looking for a doorknob use one hand and place it on the door by gently resting the pinky and ring fingers at waist level height. Your fingers should be curled with the palm facing the ground. Next, start from either the left or right side of the door and make a waving motion while your hand is traveling from left to right or right to left. The wave should be about 6 to 12 inches in height with approximately 8 waves for a standard length door. If done correctly there should be a high probability that the doorknob is found.

This technique should work on most doors. However, on some nonstandard doors, it might be necessary to start the technique lower or higher on the door. And lastly, curling the fingers is important because if your fingers are extended straight there is the chance of them getting pinched in a door frame or jammed on the doorknob.

For a full list of my tip of the day videos and blogs click here

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I would love to hear from you if you have any other tips that you think would be good to share with the world. Please feel free to comment or email me at blindonthemove@gmail.com

3 Easy Tips for Using Keys and Locks When Blind or Visually Impaired

Do you ever struggle with unlocking or locking doors? Is it hard to find the right key and locate the keyhole? If so, here are three simple and easy tips to help make locking and unlocking doors a little easier.

Tip #1 – Organize Your Keys

Over the years it is very easy for key rings to get cluttered and quite frankly unruly. I recently did a key ring audit of my key ring and boy was that an experience. I found keys from over 10 years ago, which I haven’t used in just as long and barely remember what they go to. I also discovered old rewards cards to stores that don’t exist anymore and cards from stores on the complete opposite side of the country. And finally, the most discouraging of all, I found several dangling lanyards from long lost cherished key chains. Spending some time to get rid of unused keys, rewards cards, and other miscellaneous items will make locating the keys you need so much easier.

doorknob with a deadbolt lock

Next, if possible get keys that are distinct from one another. If you are going to be finding keys tactically get keys that are different shapes and sizes. Nowadays there are so many varieties out there, large square keys, to circle keys with holes, the possibilities are almost endless. Another option is to mark your keys tactically. For example, adding duct tape to your main house key and a tactile Velcro strip to the mailbox key. You can be very creative with this process to find what works best for you.

If you are low vision and benefit from contrasting colors I have some good news for you. Keys come in pretty much every color or pattern you can think of from bright yellow, to black, and even leopard print. You can also get colored key caps for the top of your keys to add color contrast and a tactile element.

I could go on and on about all the different varieties of keys but the main thing is to try out the various options and see what works best for you.

So now that your keys are organized we can get into tip #2 how to get the key into the keyhole easily and efficiently.

Tip #2 – Use Both Hands

Key inserted in a door keyhole with other keys dangling from a key ring

Locating a keyhole and getting the key into that keyhole can be a challenge for someone who is blind or visually impaired. Here is a tip for making that task a little easier. First, locate the keyhole with the opposite hand of the one that is holding the key. For example, if you are holding the key in your right hand locate the lock and keyhole with the left hand and vice versa. Once you find the keyhole keep one finger on that keyhole with the non-key holding hand and bring the key to that finger. Having a fingertip on the keyhole makes it much easier to keep track of where the keyhole is when bringing the key to the keyhole. Finally, insert the key into the keyhole and turn the key in the desired direction.

If you want to see a video demonstration you can click here.

Tip # 3 – Avoid Dropping Keys

For my final tip, here is a helpful way to avoid dropping your keys while locking or unlocking a door or lock. First, add a carabiner, elastic loop, or a looped strap to your key ring. Next, when using your keys insert one of your fingers that is not holding on to the key into that loop. Now if you accidentally drop your keys you are able to catch them before they fall all the way to the floor. That’s it, a very simple and easy to do tip that can save you the hassle and frustration of trying to locate a set of dropped keys.

Black Carabiner in the palm of a hand

If you want to see a video demonstration you can click here.

Conclusion

I really hope these tips were helpful for you. I’m sure there are more tips out there that I did not cover in this article. I would love to hear what other tips people are using. If you have one please comment below to let me know or send me an email at blindonthemove@gmail.com. Have a wonderful day!

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