Unbroken Text of the Review

The techniques for teaching blind people how to use a cane were developed after WWI blinded a large number of young men and it was realised that you can't just give a newly-blinded adult a white stick and expect them to know how to use it safely.

These techniques, for teaching O&M, have been developed and refined and most UK instructors have waited until children who have visual impairments are old enough to be formally trained like adults in them before giving the VI child a cane.

Joe Cutter, with this book, says that canes should be given to children with visual impairments at the earliest possible age. He advocates a bottom-up learning style where, instead of being trained in using a cane, a young child can for his or herself what it can do to maximise early independence and learning opportunities with the refinements of technique being saved for later.

Cutter advocates the concept of 'age, or stage, appropriateness' i.e. that a child with a VI should be as independent as his or her peers of the same age or developmental stage. He promotes the cane to it's rightful place as a very positive symbol of independence and freedom.

The writing style is not always very smooth, but the book has a heart of gold - it actually sets out an approach to O&M that works for children and is in keeping with our knowledge of child development, unlike more conventional approaches.

The emphasis on the importance of passive and active echo location techniques for blind children is great, although it doesn't take the method as far forward as Daniel Kish and World Access for the Blind.

The 'permission' to give a young child a cane that this book gives parents, so they can watch their child's independence and confidence flourish, is brilliant.