White Cane Safety Day
White Cane Safety Day in the U.S. White Cane Safety Day was first officially observed when President Lyndon Johnson first proclaimed the day in 1964. White Cane Safety Day is observed yearly with the president signing a proclamation.
While sticks and canes had been used for centuries as tools to help blind people navigate safely, James Biggs from Bristol, England, claimed to have invented the white cane in 1921. The movement to recognize the white cane as a travel safety tool for blind people started in France in 1931. That same year, Peoria, Illinois issued the first ordinance for white cane travel. Read peer advisor Steve Kelley’s post to learn more about the day’s history and why it was started.
White Cane Laws vary across the nation. The American Council of the Blind (ACB) has compiled the laws by state. Most states give the right of way to individuals carrying white (or metallic) canes with or without red tips and/or using a dog guide, and the laws carry penalties for drivers who do not follow the law. But be sure to find out about the law in your state. Obtaining training in the use of the cane is strongly advised.
The Importance and Meaning of White Cane Safety Day
From VisionAware Peer Advisor Steve Kelley, “Today, the white cane isn’t just a tool used by travelers with vision loss. It is a symbol for members of our community who are blind or visually impaired. White Cane Safety Day is observed annually on October 15 to recognize the many achievements of blind and visually impaired citizens and the white cane as a tool promoting independent travel.”
Ways to Celebrate
President Johnson’s original proclamation urged “civic and service organizations, schools, public bodies, and the media of public information to join in this observance with appropriate activities designed to promote continuing awareness of the significance of the white cane to blind persons.”
Organizations have taken this to heart, and celebrations are held across the nation. Until COVID, these were in-person events. Today most are being held virtually. Here are a few samples across the nation in which you can participate:
Find out what is going on in your own state by googling White Cane Safety Day along with the name of your state