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Young woman walking with her white cane on a sidewalk passing by three parked bicycles.

Getting around

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When you’re blind or partially sighted, navigating your surroundings takes special skills and tools. 

The white cane

The white cane is one of the most common tools used by people who are blind to safely navigate their surroundings.

Recognized around the world, it’s also an important identification tool. It’s   a clear signal to others the user is a person with sight loss. 

There are three types of canes:

  • Identification canes are lightweight and are typically used to help with depth perception and finding things like stairs or curbs.
  • Support canes are designed to support a person’s weight, providing stability. 
  • Long canes are used as probes to sweep and scan the environment, detect objects in a person’s path, changes in the walking surface and potential hazards like steps and curbs.

CNIB is advocating to build awareness with Canadians about the white cane and how it is used, what it signifies, and how to effectively assist when requested by someone who is blind or partially sighted. 

Visit our White Cane Awareness webpage to learn more.

Guide dogs

A woman sits on the grass holding a golden labrador puppy who's wearing a "future guide dog" vest. A man hunches over next to her, and there are two other puppies in similar vests around them.Guide dogs are bred and trained to guide people who are blind around their environment by avoiding obstacles, indicating hazards and locating destinations. Working as a team, these incredible animals give their handlers independence and confidence. 

Learn more about guide dogs.

GPS and navigation apps

Many people with sight loss use global positioning system (GPS) tools and navigation apps like BlindSquare and Aira, often in combination with a cane or guide dog. These solutions are helpful for getting information about their surroundings. 

Check out the Technology section of our site to learn more about these high-tech tools.

Sighted guide

There are times when people who are blind find guidance from a sighted person helpful. It’s a great way to safely and respectfully guide someone who’s blind. 

Learn more about the sighted guide technique.