Blind toddlers have a hard time using traditional white canes, leading to accidents and injuries. Blind children starting to stand and take their first steps (as young as 11 months old) need safe mobility all the time so they can develop on par with their peers.
The Toddler Cane is a wearable white-cane that’s already dramatically improving the quality of life for children born severely visually impaired, but the current cost of the prototype cane is beyond the means of most who need this cane.
The system has two components a Toddler Cane and a Toddler App. The Toddler Cane design provides hands-free, autonomous cane arc, the same tactile next step warning as a long, white cane, but in a more appropriate toddler form.
The Toddler App and Cane (TAC) system sync together in order to document activity and step totals, offer parent and child motivators and provide developmentally appropriate orientation and mobility activities.
The wearable Toddler Cane provides an automatic arc that provides children with two-step warning before an object or hazard. Kids get it right away and often show immediate changes in mobility and mood. It has a waistband so the child wears it right above the hips. It’s so lightweight even a toddler can easily maneuver it.
“If you can’t move around safely, you don’t move and when you don’t move, you stop learning. It leads to language delays, motor delays, concept delays and social skill delays,” explains Grace Ambrose-Zaken of Hunter College and the founder of Safe Toddles.
Ambrose says that for young children, “Their language improves as they are less stressed out, their posture becomes more erect and they become more social. It’s reducing that stress of the unknown.”
The Toddler Cane is currently a prototype and the developers are still improving it. They are currently enrolling children 11 months and older with vision impairment in a study where kids would wear their canes as much as possible at home, at school, and in the community.