Cane traveler walking down a snow dusted sidewalk leaving cane arc path and footsteps.

Cane tracks in the snow

Encouraging O&M students (along with family members and educators) to "buy into" a great cane arc!

Ever wonder why it is so important to have a great cane arc? It can be challenging to get O&M students to “buy into” creating that perfect cane arc. I get it – little hands get tired, minds get distracted and even resistant attitudes pop up. Why does the cane arc even matter?

As a seasoned O&M of 25+ plus years, I have tried every trick in the book to help students build that perfect cane arc. From songs to obstacles courses, students have marched in rhythm down the hallway with “perfect arc” only to drop the arc as soon as I leave the building. So what will help the student buy into and become self-motivated to use a great cane arc?

How can we get classroom teachers, educators and family members to understand the importance of a great cane arc so that they can gently encourage the student when the O&M is not around? As an O&M, we strive to make our students as safe as possible in every environment. No one wants a student to get hurt! As an O&M, we explain the importance to other adults in the student’s life, we demonstrate how the cane tip can find drop offs and obstacles, we carefully document the student’s cane skills in various environments and warn about potential dangerous situations when a student’s cane arc slips.

Cane tracks in the snow

“A picture is worth a thousand words” – that saying is so true! In the picture below, the cane’ tracks’s path in the snow demonstrates foot placement in relationship to the cane arc. The picture is a dusting of snow on the sidewalk. A cane user has walked down the sidewalk and is coming back. The consistent cane arc is a vertical wave – tracing a path in the snow from left to right. Each foot print lands squarely on the cane arc path; each step is a straight line in the middle of the cane arc which weaves from left to right.

Cane traveler walking along a sidewalk that is dusted in snow. The cane path is a wavy line and each step lands squarely on the cane path.
Cane in the snow image jpeg (available for download)

Share this image with other educators and family members! The image brings home the point of how the cane arc protects the student! Share this picture at the IEP along with a picture of your student’s cane arc and footsteps!

Cane Tracks in the snow activity

Do you live where it snows? Take a picture of your student walking along a sidewalk or paved area with fresh snow (no other prints).

Using your student’s path, create a tactile version of the cane arc and your student’s footsteps:

Ask your student to analyze his/her cane path and footsteps. Create a tactile path using the provided picture in this post. Ask your student to compare his/her path with the one in our picture. Are they same? If not, how are they different? What does the cane path tell you about your cane arc? How could you improve your safety?


Don’t live in an area with snow? No problem! Frost, sand and even sidewalk chalk will work! Sidewalk chalk can be taped to the bottom of the cane. Check out the post, Walk Your Own Path: Sidewalk Mural.

by Diane Brauner, 1/30/23. This picture and ideas were originally posted by O&Ms on Facebook.

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