Presidents & Canes: Four Leaders & Their Favorite Walking Sticks

A Brief History of Canes Starting with the Dawn of Mankind

Canes and walking sticks have a rich history extending back to the dawn of humankind. Life was scary for early man. Imagine agriculture in its developmental stage, food had to be hunted or gathered. Shelter had to be thought up and created from the rawest of materials. Imagine the worst windstorm you’ve lived through in today’s life, and then imagine what it’d be like in your prehistoric version of a home. Imagine hunting and gathering any distance from your home. A person in this predicament would most likely bring a stick with them for protection, and thus the walking stick was born.

Over the course of man’s rise to the top of the food chain and further, the cane developed many uses and symbolisms. Greek gods and Egyptian rulers are often seen holding long walking sticks; pilgrims and shepherds of the Middle Ages used them to symbolically and literally tend flocks. For royalty, holding a cane or scepter in the left hand symbolized justice; in the right, it symbolized royal dominance (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 2013).

Prior to the French Revolution, Louis XIV outlawed the use of canes for anyone outside of the aristocracy, to preserve its association with power (Jeannin, n.d.). Of course, this was just one of the overreaches that lead to the aforementioned revolution. Still, the cane was always a fascinating item, and one of man’s beloved tools. In the United States, the group of people most associated with canes and walking sticks are the presidents.

History of Canes and U.S. Presidents

According to an article by Richard Park, The National Museum of U.S. History, run by the Smithsonian Institute has a collection of presidential canes. It includes a cane owned by the first president. This particular cane had a gold handle in the shape of a French liberty cap, and was presented to George Washington by Benjamin Franklin; the only man whose signature appears on the three most important documents in the history of the U.S.

One president famous for his cane was the cantankerous (to put it lightly) Andrew Jackson. Old Hickory, as he was known, carried a cane that concealed a sword (1995). He famously beat a would-be assassin nearly to death with it, and probably would’ve had he not ultimately been restrained. Richard Lawrence attempted to fire on President Jackson, but his gun misfired. Jackson was infuriated and attacked the would-be assassin with his cane. The assassin pulled out another gun, but it also misfired. Jackson’s aids subdued the man, possibly saving him from an angry 67-year-old with a cane. Later, after tests confirmed both guns worked fine, the odds of both guns misfiring was calculated to be 125,000 to 1 (History.com, n.d.).

Perhaps one of the coolest stories surrounding a presidential cane was one that was donated by President Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, to Frederick Douglass, the famous freed slave and abolitionist. President Lincoln and Douglass met three times during Lincoln’s term. According to Basker, initially, Douglass thought Lincoln’s antislavery stance was more political than anything, but eventually he grew to realize Lincoln was a true abolitionist at heart. Lincoln saw the U.S. in this time as the “home of freedom disenthralled, regenerated, enlarged.”

In a thank you letter to Lincoln’s widow, Douglass said,

“I assure you, that this inestimable menmento of his Excellency will be retained in my possession while I live — an object of sacred interest — a token not merely of the kind Consideration in which I have reason to know that the President was pleased to hold me personally, but of as an indication of the his humane consideration interest [in the] welfare of my whole race (p. 16).”

Warren G. Harding, though not remembered for being a particularly good president, was an avid cane collector. In his short-lived (Harding died in office of natural causes) and scandal-plagued term (remember the Teapot Dome Scandal?), he was famous for carrying a black cane, more because it was the style at the time than anything else. As Park notes, canes were “the exclamation point to a true gentleman’s attire,” (1995).

Assistech Sells Canes!

Carrying on in the proud tradition of mankind’s earliest tool, Assistech offers canes for support, tactile sense, and mobility needs. Check out our canes!

References

(n.d). January 30: This Day In History. History.com. Retrieved 16 April, 2014

Basker, J. G. (2008, February 28). Frederick Douglass remembers Lincoln. New York Amsterdam News. p. 16.

Cane, walking stick. (2013). Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, 1.

Park, E. (1995). The object at hand. Smithsonian, 26(7), 24.

History of the ADA: 5 Things You May Not Know about the Americans With Disabilities Act

Nowadays as buildings are built and remodeled, and as businesses fill these buildings, the design and amenities of these buildings take into account all people. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, business in public places must comply with laws that govern accessibility for the disabled. Furthermore, the ADA prohibits discrimination against disabled folks, similar to how the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made other forms of discrimination illegal. But what exactly is the ADA? What’s in it? Here are 5 things you might not have know about the Americans with Disabilities Act.

#1 The ADA Contains the Legal Definition of a Disability

According to language in the law, the ADA defines a disability as “…a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.” The law also spells out how and when a person with a disability is or isn’t eligible for a job.

#2 There are Five Sections or ‘Titles’ to the Act

Each of these five sections relates to a major facet of everyday life. The ADA is not a simple blanket statement ending discrimination, or a list of guidelines to assist the disabled. It covers just about everything. The five titles are:

  1. Employment – Ensuring that qualified individuals are not discriminated against for things not related to the work.
  2. Public Entities and Public Transportation – This means that programs and services offered by local and state governments must be able to include the disabled. Public transportation must also be able to accommodate the disabled.
  3. Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities – This title states that any business that is open to the public may not discriminate and prevent the disabled from receiving service.
  4. Telecommunications – This title required US telecommunications companies to put in place ways for the disabled to use communications products, such as the telephone, and later, the Internet.
  5. Miscellaneous Provisions – This section covers technicalities, and also protects the disabled from retaliation and coercion for exercising their rights under the ADA.

#3 The ADA Was Controversial at Its Passing

Though no one would argue discrimination was a good thing, people did argue that the ADA would be expensive. Religious groups and churches worried about the costs to renovate their facilities. Small business owners worried whether they could afford it. The US Chamber of Commerce even said small businesses struggling to survive were most prone to the effect of the cost.

#4 Before Passage of the ADA there Was a Demonstration Called the ‘Capitol Crawl’

A crowd of demonstrators marched to the US Capitol on March 12, 1990 to demand the ADA be passed. Upon reaching the steps, many of the disabled demonstrators threw down their crutches or got out of their wheelchairs and proceeded to crawl up the steps. The crowd below cheered them on and chanted slogans in support of the ADA.

#5 Businesses Get Sizable Tax Deductions for Working to Become ADA Compliant

The law states your business must be ADA compliant. Fortunately, according to the Equal Opportunity Commission of the US, there is a tax deduction of up to $15,000 you may use to better accommodate disabled folks at your business.

Perhaps one of the best parts of the ADA is the inclusion of more people in our general talent pool in the United States. By lifting barriers for the disabled, their abilities come to light.

Check out our selection of ADA Compliance kits for your businesses. For more information about what facilities must be ADA compliant, please check out this list.

5 Tips for Taking Care of Your Vision

There’s no denying the benefits of taking precautions when it comes to a person’s vision. Unfortunately, many don’t take care of their eyesight, resulting in vision loss, general problems, and sometimes even permanent blindness.

In this article I’ll go over 5 super simple tips that can help you take that little bit of extra care for your eyesight.

1. Get it Checked

Professionals recommend that children receive their first eye examination before the age of 3 at the latest.

For the average person aged 20-30, an eye exam is ideal every two or so years (unless signs of vision loss start occuring, that is). After the age of 30, yearly exams become more important as vision problems are more likely to develop at this age.

Note: If someone has potential for hereditary vision conditions then it’s wise to seek examination and preventive care more regularly.

2. Wear Protective Gear

I don’t mean a huge device that’s attached to your forehead, I’m talking sunglasses.

UV light can cause long-term damage to the eye which can ultimately lead to vision loss. Make sure to wear sunglasses that feature UV protection when out in the sun.

3. Pay Attention to Diet

There are particular nutrients which help play a part in preventing vision loss and also for sustaining good eyesight in general:

  • Vitamin C: found in fruits and vegetables, vitamin C can slow age-related macular degeneration and lower the risk of cataracts being developed in the eye.
  • Vitamin E: typically found in nuts and healthy cereals (among other things), vitamin E is said to protect healthy eye tissue
  • Zinc: vitamin A needs to be brought to the retina from the liver in order to produce melanin (a protective pigment in the eye). Zinc helps achieve this.

4. Avoid Eyestrain

Eyestrain itself doesn’t necessarily lead to vision loss or common vision problems, but it certainly isn’t pleasant.

If you work at a screen for most of your day, then make sure to take regular breaks.

Lighting also plays a vital role in the prevention of eyestrain, and should be considered whenever setting up an office or workspace.

Note: Whenever your eyes feel a little overwhelmed and tired, give them a rest! Take a break and close them for 5 minutes.


5. Get More Sleep

Sleep deprivation can often lead to eye redness and/or sore eyes. Unlike eyestrain, this does have the potential to lead to greater, more permanent vision problems. Not only this, but a lack of sleep can lead to a plethora of other physical problems unrelated to vision, and is something that should be taken seriously.

If you do have trouble sleeping, seek professional help. Otherwise, just go to sleep a little earlier!

After blindness and low vision products? Take a look at our line of products.


Disclaimer: This information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. We cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician.

5 Medical Health Products You Should Know About

While the main focus at Assistech is to provide assistive products for the deaf and hard of hearing, blind and visually impaired, speech-impaired, and physically challenged; we also feature a range of medical health products from simple neck supports to more advanced tools like stethoscopes and thermometers.

In this post I’ll highlight 5 key categories of medical health products that we sell.

1. Back & Neck Supports, Cushions, and Pillows

The only thing worse than having back pain is not having properly designed furniture to comfort and help it. The same goes with having a sore neck.

Fortunately, we have a range of back supports, including a back stretcher, back cushions, and a spine reliever leg wedge. Neck/crescent pillows are also great for relaxing your neck and back muscles.

2. Health & Fitness Gadgets

Taking care of your health can be difficult, time-consuming, and even expensive if you don’t have the right tools.

Though not essential, health and fitness gadgets generally provide instant information that can be of use, such as blood glucose levels, temperature, body fat percentage, and heart rate.

Check out our full range of Exercisers and other Health & Fitness products.

3. Medicine Reminders

If you’re on medication and want to stay on top of your health, then it’s essential that you remember to actually take your medication. Seems easy enough in theory, but often we forget.

At Assistech we offer a range of medicine reminders, from simple pill boxes to fully fledged monthly medication organizers.

Check out our range of Medicine Reminder products here. 

4. Wraps & Braces

Not as high-tech as some of those medicine reminders, yet still helpful and important.

Wraps and braces generally act as soothing mechanisms and offer comfort for particular parts of the body. Moreover, some offer compression which helps with sore muscle recovery along with other benefits.

Take a look at our range of Wraps & Braces. We have hot/cold therapeutic wraps, migraine relief wraps, and quality knee wraps.

5. Talking First Aid Kit

Every household should have a first aid kit. If you or anyone in your househould suffers from a form of visual impairment, then a talking first aid kit may just be your next purchase.

The kit offered over at our website features a set of 9 Talking Care Packs, each designed to provide specific assistance in cases of injury or emergency, including: breathing/CPR, bleeding, shock, head & spine, bone, eye, burns, bites & stings, and basics.

Learn more about the Talking First Aid Kit here. 

While this article covers most of our Medical Health line of products, there’s still extra! Head over to the main product page to find other categories and products not mentioned here.

RAY – Fully Accessible Cell Phones for the Blind

Let’s face it – a lot of the cell phones out there are far too complicated for everyday use, and others are far too simple. Is there a perfect medium?

The answer is yes.

In this blog post I’ll be pointing out what’s so great about the RAY Huawei G300 and G510, both fully functional cell phones for the blind.

The two phones are practically the same, but it must be noted that the G510 features higher performance, a larger screen, and higher resolution camera. If you’re looking for a little edge, then this is the model for you.

Regardless of model, there are some features that truly define the RAY Huawei G-series:

  • Eye-free operation
  • Advanced capabilities: GPS, voice recorder, money and color identifier
  • Accessible audio content including audio books, newspapers, and magazines
  • Desktop website interface for more efficient and easy data entry (contacts, calendar)
  • Customer support via remote access

The first is a given, as it is a phone for the blind or those with low vision. The eye-free operation is very smooth and intuitive, as one would expect from such a high-quality phone.

For some, the advanced capabilities may be unnecessary. This could be a sign that a more basic phone is in order, such as the Jitterbug Plus. But if you are into a few bells and whistles then you’ll love these extra features!

We’re living in the age of smartphones, and people expect to be able to do more than just call and text message their friends. Fortunately, the G-series allows users to access a library of over 100,000 audio books, allowing continuous entertainment, education, or simply relaxation.

For those of you who find entering and editing precise information on a small cell phone difficult and annoying, you’ve been heard! The G300 and G510 both feature a desktop website interface which allows users to manage their device over the web. This includes entering contact information, setting important dates on the calendar, and more.

The main selling point of the phone, though, is the customer support feature. We all know how utterly frustrating technology problems can be. What’s even worse is the lack of customer support that most companies offer (who wants to spend 30 minutes on hold?). Huawei has addressed this by including a one-of-a-kind remote access customer support feature, meaning representatives can gain access to your phone and hopefully fix it from a remote destination.

Overall, the RAY Huawei G300 and G510 are great cell phones built for accessibility. The price may seem a little steep, but when factoring in the amount of features and high build quality of the phone – it makes sense.

Learn more about the RAY Huawei G300.

Click here for more information about the RAY Huawei G510.

Mobility and Dexterity Aids

Having any sort of mobility or dexterity problem can be a huge frustration when it comes to necessary physical activity. Fortunately, there are aids designed to help with everything, whether it be writing, walking, or talking on the phone – we’ve got you covered.

Below are a few mobility and dexterity aids that we recommend.

Reachers

Reachers are incredibly helpful for those with mobility issues in situations where reach is needed for objects that are difficult to grab normally (coins, paper, etc.)

Here are two we recommend:

Deluxe Folding Reacher

If you’re looking for something that delivers quality at an unbeatable price, then the Deluxe Folding Reacher is a great choice. Featuring an extension of approximately 3 feet, this reacher is perfect for standard household use.

The Deluxe Folding Reacher is made from lightweight durable aluminum and features a locking mechanism as well as super suction grips.

Check out the Deluxe Folding Reacher here.

Easy Reacher

Spent a little more money and you can place your hands on the Easy Reacher. This reacher has a carefully designed comfort grip handle with a bottom pivot trigger making it ideal for those with weakened hands.

The jaws on the Easy Reacher can be opened to 3 ½ inches, and can pick up objects as heavy as 4 lbs.

If you’re looking for something comfortable, well-designed, and reliable – then the Easy Reacher will satisfy.

Check out the Easy Reacher here.

Dressing Aids

For people with mobility and dexterity problems, simple tasks such as getting dressed can prove difficult and uncomfortable. Using dressing aids can help immensely and make the whole process a lot easier.

Here are some popular dressing aids:

Rotating One-Hand Button Aid and Zipper Pull

If you’ve got arthritis or another condition that affects fine motor skills, then detailed tasks such as pulling a zipper or buttoning up a shirt can be a pain and also take longer than necessary.

This dressing aid allows the user to complete the entire buttoning and/or zippering process with just one hand.

Check out the Rotating One-Hand Button Aid and Zipper Pull here.

23-Inch Shoehorn

One can never do without a decent shoehorn. This particular one is made of strong metal that won’t bend or break.

This shoehorn does its job as it should, and guides the heel softly and easily into the shoe.

Check it out here.

Telephones

It’s all good and well to have dressing aids, or reachers, but how do you counter the difficulty of communication?

At Assistech we’ve got a range of telephones, cell phones, and answering machines designed specifically for those with mobility and dexterity problems.

Just5 Big Button Amplified Cell Phone

Let’s face it – most cell phones these days are incredibly compact, contain very small controls, and quite frankly are useless when it comes to use with dexterity issues.

The Just5 provides a great solution with its 0.5” buttons, making it easier to view and dial. It prides itself on its ease of operation and convenience along with added features such as the Personal Emergency Response System, which will automatically call assigned contacts in case of an emergency.

Find out more about the Just5 Big Button Amplified Cell Phone here.

Able Phone 5000 Voice Activated Dialer

If you’ve got a more extreme case of lack of mobility or dexterity, then a complete hands-free solution might be a more logical option.

The Able Phone 5000 is a voice activated dialer that lies between your regular phone and the phone line. This model in particular allows up to 60 names and numbers to be stored for voice recognition recall.

Take a look at the Able Phone 5000 Voice Activated Dialer here.

Looking for more?

At Assistech we’ve got a range of products for those with mobility and dexterity issues. The products above are just a glimpse of what else is available.

Check out our full range of mobility and dexterity aids here.

Cortical Visual Impairment in Children

Unlike most blindness and visual impairments, cortical visual impairment (CVI) is caused by the brain rather than the eye.

Of course, this doesn’t mean there aren’t any problems with the eye. More often than not, CVI exists alongside ocular vision loss, which is a direct eye problem.

Causes

The most common causes of cortical visual impairment are:

  • Lack of sufficient oxygen in blood cells (hypoxia)
  • Not enough blood supply to the brain (ischemia)
  • Developmental brain defects
  • Head injuries
  • Infections of the central nervous system

The first two are the most major causes, and may occur during the birth process. This is why children born with CVI may appear fully blind at first. However; vision normally improves over time (most progress is made 2 years after diagnosis).

It is rare that someone will recover completely from CVI, but significant help can be provided for children who do suffer from it.

Symptoms

There are certain characteristics of CVI that are different to visual impairments caused by the eye.

CVI can cause a person to have an inefficient visual sense. Their vision can fluctuate and change from one day to the next, or even from minute to minute. This is usually brought on by fatigue or tiredness, and can be reduced but not eliminated.

Another common characteristic of CVI is that children may find their peripheral vision to be more effective than their central vision. This could also be related to the fact that discerning foreground and background items is difficult, and becomes worse in a situation where the visual field is crowded.

Depth perception can be a big problem for children with CVI. There is usually some amount of perception – rarely will a child with CVI have zero.

Debunking Common Myths

- Contrary to popular belief, having CVI does not mean that a child will have cognitive deficits.

- Likewise, children with CVI are not usually visually inattentive, and are NOT poorly motivated.

- CVI is a true visual impairment, despite it being a neurological problem rather than a direct eye impairment.

- Children with CVI are not totally blind, though it can be a possibility.

Dealing with CVI in Children

There are certain tips and methods for teaching or working with children that have CVI, but one thing that must be taken into account is that each case is unique, and while some methods may appear to work for some children, they won’t work on others.

It takes a lot more energy for someone with CVI to process information visually and often causes them to tire easily. This is something to take into account – receiving information in audio form is a lot more efficient.

Keep space uncluttered as possible. It’s hard for children with CVI to discern between different objects when there is such a variety in their field of vision. Keep things simple and in place. Providing familiarity and simplicity aids perception.

Color over black and white wherever possible. Children with CVI can often perceive color a lot better than dull, or non-bright colors.

Do you have someone suffering from CVI in your family? Maybe you do yourself? Whatever the case, take a look at our range of products for those with blindness and low vision.


Disclaimer: This information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. We cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician.