Several years ago I worked at ND Vision Services/School for the Blind and was a co-worker with Paul Olson who was then the Orientation and Mobility (O & M) Instructor. Now Paul is the superintendent of the school but is still very involved with O & M. In fact, he invented a new cane tip, called the Dakota Disk, which works well over rough terrain such as gravel, grass, or snow.
We all know that North Dakota is not the only place you’d run into terrain such as this. Too often a person who is blind is frustrated when his cane jabs him in the ribcage as the tip gets stuck on an uneven surface. The Dakota Disk which is shaped like a small plastic Frisbee is a cane tip which glides easily over a variety of surfaces.
When Paul came up with a prototype, he turned to Ambutech, a Winnipeg, Manitoba company who manufactures canes. They began manufacturing the cane, and it has been on the market for almost a year. Pam Parker, a mobility specialist in Washington, will be presenting on the Dakota Disk in Dublin, Ireland in June and at the International O&M Conference in Pittsburg, PA in July.
Paul never asked for financial benefit from the development from this cane tip. “My reward has been the fun I have had developing it with Ambutech and the satisfaction of knowing that it works well and is being used in many countries already. I really wanted to help people who are blind and visually impaired be more independent and adventurous in the great outdoors,” said Paul.
A video about the Dakota Disk can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ER88qczlFVw
The Dakota Disk costs less than $10 and can be found at