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Deafblind Awareness: Red and White Canes

How often do you see a pedestrian with a cane and automatically assume that they are blind?

If you see a person with a completely white cane, this will usually mean they are blind, or visually impaired. Pedestrians with a red and white striped cane however, are deafblind (with both sight and hearing impairments).

Daphne is a Deafblind UK member and uses a red and white cane while out and about in her local area. “I’ve had a few near misses when cars beep at me, assuming I can hear them,” she said. “I will always stop and tell people, younger people especially, what my red and white cane means and I hope they will pass it on.”

Many deafblind people choose to use a cane to help them navigate obstacles while out and about, as well as to let other people know that they are deafblind and may need a bit more time to make decisions and movements, particularly if they are not familiar with their surroundings.

Some older deafblind people that have additional mobility complications will use a standard walking cane that they have adapted with red and white tape because it fits their additional needs. While there are a few varieties of cane, there are two main lengths that a person with sensory loss may use.

This full length cane is the most common, and used as a mobility aid

This full length cane is the most common, and used as a mobility aid

 

These are symbol canes, much shorter and held close to the body to indicate deafblindness

These are symbol canes, much shorter and held close to the body to indicate deafblindness

 

These standard walking canes have been adapted with coloured tape to indicate deafblindness

These standard walking canes have been adapted with coloured tape to indicate deafblindness

 

If you’re a driver and see a pedestrian with a red and white cane, please remember that they may not be able to hear you, so simply beeping your car horn at them won’t necessarily alert them to your presence. A deafblind person may also cross a road at a slower pace; this is for their own safety so please be patient.

All road users are legally required to be aware of the Highway Code – and you can find an entire section on particularly vulnerable road users (including deafblind people) on the website HERE.

Did you know that a red and white cane was used to identify a deafblind person? Please share our graphic and help drivers and other pedestrians become more deafblind aware!

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