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Electronic Mobility Devices for Persons Who are Blind or Visually Impaired
The long white cane has been a symbol of blind persons around the world. This simple device has helped millions of blind persons find their way towards the place they want to go to.
It has also inspired a number of electronic mobility devices for blind individuals. Taking the concept of the white cane, developers of assistive technologies have made these electronic devices to enhance the traveling experience of persons who are blind. Most of these devices should be used in conjunction with the cane or other mobility aids.
This is an electronic cane that uses invisible laser beams to detect obstacles, drop offs, and similar hazards in the surroundings. Once the cane detects the obstacle or drop off using the laser beams, it will produce a specific audio signal. The cane has three distinct audio signals; each one indicates a specific distance. The audio signal informs the user of the distance of the obstacle or the height of the drop off. This device can detect objects and hazards up to a distance of 12 feet.
A part of the cane’s handle also vibrates when there is an object in front of the user. The laser cane is suitable for persons who are blind and persons who are deaf blind. It can be used on its own. However, mobility experts strongly recommend that blind persons first learn the use of the long white cane before using the laser cane.
Sonic Mobility Device
This is a device that is generally mounted on the user’s head. It uses ultrasonic technology to detect obstacles and other objects that are located in front of the user’s path. The sonic mobility device uses the musical scale’s 8 tones to indicate the distance of the object. Each tone signifies a particular distance from the obstruction. The user hears the tones through the device’s earpiece.
The sonic mobility device is suitable for outdoor use.
However, it may not be used in places with extremely loud noise. This device should be used with a cane or a guide dog.
Handheld Mobility Device
This is a small device which the user points around the surroundings. Once the handheld device detects a particular object, the device will vibrate. The vibration enables the user to identify that there is an object nearby.
Certain handheld mobility devices produce a level of vibration depending on the distance of the object. A fainter vibration for a relatively far object and a stronger vibration to a near one. These devices should be used with a cane.
GPS Devices for the Blind
Although mainly used in identifying one’s location, GPS (Global Positioning System) devices also help blind persons in traveling independently. Blind persons can use portable GPS systems to determine and verify the correct travel route. They can use these devices whether they are walking or riding a vehicle.
GPS devices for the blind include screen readers so the user can hear the information. Other GPS devices are connected to a Braille display so the user can read the information displayed in Braille. Blind persons should use a particular mobility device in addition to the GPS system.