White Cane Awareness
Throughout the world, the long white cane is used by people who are blind or visually impaired as a tool for safe and reliable navigation. The white cane is a symbol of the user’s skills and talents, mobility and independence. It also allows the sighted person to recognize that the user is visually impaired.
The white cane was initially developed and put into use as a measure of safety, especially in traffic situations. Sufficient training with an Orientation and Mobility specialist can aid in successful cane use, technique and safety. Several countries have traffic laws designed to protect the person using the white cane. The “VisionAware” section of the American Foundation for the Blind’s website illustrates several types of white canes that are internationally recognized. Sometimes the white cane has a red band or strip for the purpose of contrast.
International White Cane Safety Day (October 15th) gives Lions an opportunity to increase awareness of the white cane traffic safety laws. According to the World Blind Union, which is a global organization representing the 285 million blind or partially sighted people worldwide, “White Cane Day is observed worldwide to recognize the movement of blind people from dependency to full participation in society.”
International White Cane Safety Day is an opportunity to increase awareness about the white cane, which:
• Signifies that the pedestrian using it is blind or visually impaired;
• Alerts motorists of the need to exercise special caution and provide the user the right of way;
• Symbolizes the independence, confidence and skills of the person who is using it.
Today white cane laws are on the books of every state in the US and in a few other countries, providing persons who are blind a legal status in traffic. The white cane universally acknowledges that the bearer is blind. For specific information contact your local government office for motor vehicles.
Monies collected are used to support programs and services for people who are blind or visually impaired as well as for sight conservation. As volunteers, Lions enjoy working together to target needs in their communities. The Lions decide which projects suit these needs and when and how they are best able to address them.