A new primary mobility tool for the visually impaired: A white cane—adaptive mobility device hybrid

John Ross Rizzo, Kyle Conti, Teena Thomas, Todd E. Hudson, Robert Wall Emerson, Dae Shik Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article describes pilot testing of an adaptive mobility device-hybrid (AMD-H) combining properties of two primary mobility tools for people who are blind: the long cane and adaptive mobility devices (AMDs). The long cane is the primary mobility tool used by people who are blind and visually impaired for independent and safe mobility and AMDs are adaptive devices that are often lightweight frames approximately body width in lateral dimension that are simply pushed forward to clear the space in front of a person. The prototype cane built for this study had a wing apparatus that could be folded around the shaft of a cane but when unfolded, deployed two wheeled wings 25 cm (9.8 in) to each side of the canetip. This project explored drop-off and obstacle detection for 6 adults with visual impairment using the deployed AMD-H and a standard long cane. The AMD-H improved obstacle detection overall, and was most effective for the smallest obstacles (2 and 6 inch diameter). The AMD-H cut the average drop off threshold from 1.79 inches (4.55 cm) to.96 inches (2.44 cm). All participants showed a decrease in drop off detection threshold and an increase in detection rate (13.9% overall). For drop offs of 1 in (2.54 cm) and 3 in (7.62 cm), all participants showed large improvements with the AMD-H, ranging from 8.4 to 50%. The larger drop offs of 5 in (12.7 cm) and 7 in (17.8 cm) were well detected by both types of canes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-225
Number of pages7
JournalAssistive Technology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 20 2018


  • adaptive cane
  • blind
  • cane
  • mobility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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