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The complexity of learning to use a long cane

Conference paper
Authors Inger Berndtsson
Published in Paper publicerat i Proceedings CD, 12th International Mobility Conference, 27/11-1/12 2006, Hong Kong Kina
Pages s 1–7
Publication year 2006
Published at Department of Education, Special Needs Education Unit
Pages s 1–7
Language en
Keywords special education, orientation and mobility, learning, visual impairment, blindness, life-world phenomenology
Subject categories Pedagogy


Persons, who have turned blind as adults, face a very different and difficult life-situation, almost everything in their life changes. How is it then possible to continue life and again learn to live an active life as before? This is a reality some people have to face, and one just have to manage it. One very important key when you have to re-learn and re-orient yourself in your new world is the white cane. However, this is not always a simple task to learn. And, of most importance, the white cane is embedded with different connotations. It is a symbol for blindness, and as a cane it also represents incapacity. Using a white cane implies using it as an extension of your own body seen from the theory of the lived body. You have to learn how to use it when touching the world around you, and how to interpret that information. A main question is how the cane can be an active tool for blind people? Based on previous and ongoing research I will present results from some case-studies, where the learning to use a white cane has been put into focus. These studies point to a complexity in using a white cane. It includes psychological and sociological aspects about identity, who you have been, who you are now, and how others look at you, as well as aspects of how to learn to use the white cane. The research is grounded in life-world phenomenological philosophy and hermeneutics.

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