A new device is giving visually impaired toddlers a chance to move, explore and learn, with less fear and risk of falling.
A cane gives visually impaired adults mobility and a measure of safety as they navigate the mostly unseen world around them. But toddlers don’t have the physical dexterity or attention span to learn to use a cane effectively, so their exploration of the world around them becomes a bruising experience.
Not surprisingly, visually impaired toddlers become hesitant to move around.
“If you cant 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,” said Grace Ambrose-Zaken at Hunter College.
A simple device dubbed a toddler cane has a waistband so the child wears it right above the hips. It’s so lightweight even a toddler can easily maneuver it.
Even more important than not falling, is how the toddler cane helps children develop. Their language improves as they are less stressed out, their posture becomes more erect and they become more social. Its reducing that stress of the unknown” Ambrose-Zaken added.
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.