October is National Blindness Awareness month, and today, October 15th marks White Cane Safety Awareness Day. Today is a day we celebrate the achievements of people who are blind and visually impaired, throughout the nation, and all around the world.
What is the white cane?
The white cane is an incredibly useful tool, used by individuals with visual impairments to detect obstacles, curb drop-offs, cracks in the sidewalk, stairs, or to find doorways, get on and off buses, and so much more. However, the white cane is more than just a tool. It is a symbol of independence, that allows individuals with vision impairments to travel from one place to another, safely and independently.
While technology continues to develop, it enables increased independence in tremendous ways for those who are blind and visually impaired. In tandem, the white cane will continue to be an important and valuable tool.
History of White Cane Safety Awareness Day
White Cane Safety Awareness Day was adopted as a joint resolution in the United States Congress in 1964 and became official when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the proclamation hours after the resolution had passed. White Cane Safety Awareness Day has been remembered every year since and continues to promote awareness.
The Top 3 Do’s and Don’ts when you meet an individual using a white cane.
- Do introduce yourself, including your name, especially when entering the room.
- Do talk directly to the person and not through a companion.
- Do give directions using specific details including using “left” and “right” and not just pointing.
- Don’t assume the person needs help. Ask them if they need assistance before helping.
- Don’t grab onto the person and try to steer them. Only help if permission is granted.
- Don’t forget when driving to be aware of pedestrians using a white cane. They may need more time to cross the street and avoid trying to help from the car. No honking or trying to yell that it is safe to cross.
And most importantly, remember that a person using a white cane is an individual with feelings, desires, and goals. Thus they should be treated how we all want to be treated.
If you or someone you know is in need of assistance due to visual impairment or blindness, please contact us today.