FISHKILL, N.Y., Oct. 6, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — For 40 percent of children born with a visual impairment, learning to walk independently is a difficult, if not dangerous challenge. In addition to not being able to see where they are going or to avoid obstacles, they are too small to hold and maneuver the standard white cane often used by visually impaired adults. For this reason, many young children who are blind experience harmful collisions or falls when they attempt to walk independently, and are, consequently, fearful of exploring the environment and slow to develop effective motor skills. The resulting delays in concept, language, motor, and social development in turn affect the ability of too many youngsters to grow into independent, self-confident adults.
To address this unsatisfactory situation, Safe Toddles, a non-profit whose mission is to provide blind toddlers with a solution for walking safely, will be participating in a potentially groundbreaking research study with the help of the Lavelle Fund for the Blind and conducted by Northern Illinois University. The developer of a pediatric belt cane worn by young children too small to use a standard cane, the organization has received a two-year grant from the Lavelle Fund to provide 80 blind children ranging in age from 18 to 60 months with belt canes and study their independent walking progress.
Dr. Grace Ambrose-Zaken and Professor Marom Bikson of City University of New York are the inventors of the pediatric belt cane and will work with Northern Illinois professors Bill Penrod and Dr. Ximena Bergin, co-principal investigators, to conduct this investigation. According to Ambrose-Zaken and Bikson, «The pediatric belt cane has demonstrated the ability to significantly improve the lives of children born blind and severely visually impaired by providing them a means of independent safe mobility. This study will provide the statistical data needed to demonstrate the effect of providing safe mobility to a large population of children who are blind and visually impaired.»
Susan Olivo, Lavelle Fund Executive Director, described the two-year project as «a key research undertaking conducted to investigate the use of mobility tools to improve safety in children under the age of five years. The Lavelle Fund is proud to support efforts that have the potential to dramatically improve the lives of blind children.»
Safe Toddles is a nonprofit that provides free pediatric belt canes to families of children who are blind and unable to afford one.
Pictured, Jaxon age 2, has tunnel vision, he strides down the street with confidence wearing his pediatric belt cane.
About Safe Toddles
Safe Toddles (nonprofit 501c3) provides the one and only pediatric belt canes (wearable white canes) for toddlers and preschoolers who are blind and mobility visually impaired. The pediatric belt cane is an innovative safe mobility solution for blind toddlers. Our unique design uses magnets to connect a lightweight rectangular white cane frame to a waist belt. When toddlers who are blind wear their belt canes, they learn to find the clear path, are protected from most bodily collisions, and gain self-confidence to independently explore their world.
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SOURCE Safe Toddles