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 people who are deafblind 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:
- A full length cane is the most common, and used as a mobility aid
- A symbol cane is much shorter and is held close to the body to tell other people that you are deafblind
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 – click here.