October 15 is White Cane Safety Day. White Cane Safety Day is observed annually to recognize the achievements of people who are blind or visually and as a tool promoting independent travel. White Cane Safety Day was first officially observed in 1964 when President Lyndon Johnson first proclaimed the day.
Many people believe each state’s White Cane Law contains a provision that requires drivers to stop for, and/or yield to, pedestrians who are carrying white canes. This is not correct. The laws in each state vary widely and drivers do not always reliably stop for pedestrians who carry white canes. Read more about the laws in Maureen Duffy’s post on celebrating white cane day.
For more about the history of the white cane, Steve Kelley has posted about its history. Audrey Demmitt has written about where you can obtain training on using the white cane. Training is vitally important to using the cane safely and efficiently.
For some interesting new takes on the white cane, Lynda Jones has written about the evolution of the cane, including the use of colored canes. In these posts, she featured perspectives from VisionAware peers as well as professionals on using a colored cane.
Here is an excerpt from the above-mentioned post about using colored canes versus white ones: “Although several of the experts said they would not discourage someone from using a colored cane, they did think that the user should consider the potential risk when choosing to use a color other than white. Even so, all the professionals believe that color is an issue primarily because it’s been the symbol of independent travel for blind people for decades. Needless to say, they all agreed, that good O&M techniques–detecting drop-offs and objects in one’s path, knowing what’s ahead and on either side–really makes the user a safe traveler. The majority were less concerned about cane color than how many people in the public make the connection between a white cane and someone with a visual impairment.”
White cane celebrations are held across the nation on October 15. Lenore Dillon has posted about the benefits of white cane and the celebration in her community. Check out what is going on in your community and join in the celebration.