When used correctly, the mobility cane searches the ground ahead of each step. Like vision, the cane tells the VI person what is ahead, detects what is to be avoided or approached, and gives general preview, not only of where the traveler will be stepping next but also echolocation information of objects further away.
Aside from providing safe travel, an essential function of a mobility cane, is to help as an identifier to others that the user is blind.
When we think of a person who is blind traveling, most of us picture a person using a solid white cane made of aluminum or other light weight material. However, there are canes made in different colors, and these colors have a meaning. For instance, a white cane with a red bottom means that its user may have some remaining vision, while a cane with red and white stripes may mean that its user is deaf-blind. There are also canes meant to glow in the dark or made with reflective materials for people to travel safely at night.
Most states in the US, have legislation based on the model White Cane Law which require vehicles to give the right of way to pedestrians carrying a white cane.