by B. E. Lewis, RDPFS Intern:
For people who are blind, the white cane is an important tool for achieving a full and independent life, recognized around the world as a means for identifying and empowering individuals who are blind and visually impaired. This year, celebrations for White Cane Day, recognized annually on October 15th, will be held in many communities across the country. This observance provides opportunities to celebrate the white cane, its benefits, different types of canes, and more. Activities such as marches, musical performances, exhibits, white cane walks, meetings, speeches, picnics, barbecues, and the distribution of promotional materials will highlight the day in communities across the nation. The celebration on October 15th each year can be traced to a joint resolution of the United States Congress in 1964 designating that day to be recognized as White Cane Safety Day. “White Cane Awareness Day is our way of emphasizing the critical role that this tool plays in living the lives we want and informing the public about its true significance,” says National Federation of the Blind (NFB) President Mark A. Riccobono. Through the years, state laws have reinforced the importance of the white cane, offering blind pedestrians protection and the right-of-way while carrying a white cane. “White Cane Laws” are in effect in each state in the U.S. and the District of Columbia. These laws require drivers to use every possible precaution when approaching a pedestrian with a white or metallic cane or using a guide dog. For more information about White Cane Awareness Day, including suggestions for activities to celebrate, visit the NFB webpage on White Cane Awareness Day. Details about laws protecting blind pedestrians across the nation are available from the American Council of the Blind (ACB)’s webpage on White Cane Laws for States. For a copy of the original Presidential recognition of the commemoration, visit the UC Santa Barbara’s webpage for The American Presidential Project to read the text for Proclamation 3622—White Cane Safety Day, 1964.