Future Reflections Spring/Summer 1993, Vol. 12 No. 2


by Loretta White

Editor's Note: The following article is reprinted from the Winter, 1992-93 issue of the Braille Spectator, a publication of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland. Loretta White is the president of the NFB of Maryland Parents Division.

The Parents of Blind Children Division of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland is a grassroots organization of parents and friends of blind children. It is our conviction that blind children can lead happy, fulfilled lives. They develop much the same as their sighted peers, and their blindness may eventually be reduced to a physical nuisance. The realization of this goal requires appropriate and adequate supports. It is for this purpose that the NFB Children's Cane Bank has been established for the State of Maryland through a grant from the Severn River Lions Club.

Good mobility facilitates exploring and learning about the world for all children, especially for those who are blind. While sighted children will acquire tremendous amounts of information about their environment from the confines of their cribs by casually looking around at their surroundings, blind children must be taught early to move and explore in order to learn. Once blind children have learned to walk, skills need to be introduced to optimize their mobility in order to keep them safe, curious, confident, and moving at an appropriate pace.

The best way to accomplish this is to equip them with white canes as soon as they have learned to walk. The Cane Bank accepts referrals from all sources including (but not limited to): educators, school administrators, health care providers, therapists, family members or friends, or students themselves. The NFB of Maryland Children's Cane Bank is physically located in the Aids and Appliances Center on the first floor of the National Center for the Blind at 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland.

All visually impaired children in the state of Maryland who would benefit from a white cane are eligible to borrow canes from the NFB of Maryland Children's Cane Bank at no cost. Referral and application forms may be obtained from the President of the Parents of Blind Children Division of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland. When the application with the necessary information is received, the cane will be mailed directly to the user from the Aids and Appliances Center in a reusable cardboard tube. The first mailing will include a one-week loan of the video “Kids With Canes” and print and/or Braille instructions on the care and use of the cane. When a cane is outgrown or broken, parents are encouraged to trade it in for a longer one. The smaller cane will be refurbished and returned to stock.

For more information call the Parents Division of the National
Federation of the Blind of Maryland at (410) 360-5108.