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Long White Cane Techniques: Motivating Young Children with Special Activities

Guidelines to plan special activities to motivate long cane users while incorporating braille and other literacy activities; could also be used for White Cane Day!

Collage of long white cane technqiuesParents and Orientation and Mobility Specialists know that safe and efficient travel with the long white cane is “all about technique.” Awful technique equals awful protection and effective technique equals effective protection. How do we motivate these young children to walk “in step” with correct arc height and width? Or maybe we want to address the fact that a child is not covering their right side with the correct arc width. Yes, sure we need to guide these kids by saying “more right” as they walk, but using special activities is a great way to motivate young children without constantly harping on their technique. 


Reinforcing Skills Through Real Life Experience

Parents and Orientation and Mobility Specialist alike can use special activity motivators to encourage proper technique. But to be certain, this is not the only reason to use special activities. A simple trip to a nearby pizza place can be used to teach route planning, cardinal directions, map reading, how to ride on the bus, how to effectively negotiate sidewalks, and yes how to cover both sides of the body with correct arc width and to walk in step. Counting money, paying the cashier incorporate math skills in the natural setting.  Special field trips like this are invaluable for motivation and real life experience. All of these experiences help to build a bridge for the child to understand, why am I working on this in school? 

Book with City Bus and Pizza Hut in braille

Meeting IEP Goals

How does this all shake out? First the Individual Education Plan is developed. The IEP may say, “Liam will walk ‘in step’ for a distance of two hundred feet on five occasions during the period of the IEP.” So, we get the measuring wheel, we place tactile markers on the wall and we try to walk the two hundred feet whenever we have the chance. All the time, we are saying that a special day will occur when the child is able to accomplish the feat on five occasions. 

Step-by-step directions to walk to the bus stop

Incorporating Braille Literacy and Orientation & Mobility Skills

So now our special activity allows us the opportunity to write and read a route plan in braille. We talk about and experience cardinal directions, corners of intersections, truncated domes, street crossings, and travel to the bus stop. 

Liam uses his cane technique to get to the bus stop

The star of the show finds the descending ramp and stops before entering the street.

Liam waits at the street corner

Liam locates the bus stop.

A boy stands at the bus stop


Descending steps of bus

Liam enters and exits the bus with a short tactile tour to boot.

A boy opens the door to the pizza restaurant


Community-based activities, special days, or special activities; you can call them whatever you like. They are lots of fun, filled with incidental learning, and very motivating for the kids. Again, the biggest plus for these activities is that they build a strong bridge between what we are learning at school at what we need to know in the community. Good luck and have fun!


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