When people need a support cane to provide physical support, and also need a long cane to find out what's on the ground ahead of them because they can't see well enough, they use two canes -- one for support, and one to reach ahead and find out if there are any hazards (what I call a "probing" cane).
For a discussion on support and "probing" canes, see "What type of cane should I use?".
Is it difficult to learn to use two canes at once?
Although it may seem awkward, most people are able to quickly learn how to move the canes correctly.
Every person whom I have taught to do this was able to learn it in one session and
O&M specialist at the
Institut Nazareth & Louis-Braille in Quebec, had the same experience.
It took her client only one session to learn to do it well enough to correct himself the next sesssion.
She says that for him, it was like a dance.
She had taught him to think of the canes saying "hi!" to each other as they come together at the same place (as shown in the pictures and the video below).
She suggests that this may help some clients and not others, but we O&M specialsits sometimes have to play "trial and error" to find effective ways to teach.
Thank you, Laurette, for sharing that!
This woman lives in Maryland, and has been using two canes to travel for many years. With one hand, she moves the white "probing" cane in an arc in front of her, in rhythm with her feet, just as people who use one long ("probing") cane do.
With her other hand, she moves a support cane the same way that people who use a support cane do.
Techniques for going up and down stairs with both canes should be developed with the physical therapist and O&M specialist together with the client. Some people hold both canes in one hand while holding the rail with the other. Below, this woman shows how she does it. [grateful appreciation to Sue Boaz for being photographed]
In June, 2014, while touring a monastery near Barcelona, Spain, I met Vicent de Frutos, who was skillfully using a Canadian crutch for support with one hand and a probing cane with the other.
He and his 91-year-old father, Heliodoro, were touring the monastery with 1500 other people from ONCE, a national organization of blind people.
He said he's been using a Canadian crutch for about 30 years, but the probing cane for only a few months.
Nevertheless, as you can see in his demonstration in the video to the right, he is coordinating the movements of both canes well, although he should probably extend the arc of the probing cane further to his left to check the surface in front of his crutch.
These photos show two men who live in South Africa. They each use one cane for support, and one cane to probe ahead of them. The probing cane has a special tip, the "bundu basher," designed to travel in rural areas.
In the pictures below, one of the men is following a fence to find the opening into his church. He supports himself with a cane in his right hand, and his left hand uses a long cane to search ahead for the end of the fence.