Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 15 – White Cane Safety Day

Today is a day to celebrate and acknowledge the freedom given to people who are blind or severely visually impaired by using a white cane. I was a little confused at first because a lot of things that I was reading were saying that Oct 13 was White Cane Day, there is even a website However, I am thinking maybe Oct 13 is White Cane Day and today is White Cane Safety Day?

I know that today is White Cane Safety Day because in 1964 Lyndon Johnson declared it to be on Oct 15th, and today it was proclaimed by President Obama. This is the 45th year of this celebration. This is actually an internationally recognized day; there are celebrations and awareness events happening all over the world today.

Schools for the blind offer classes on learning Braille, using your cane safely to walk down the street, find the bus stop, and get around easily. They have great support groups and are available to help with all aspects of being or becoming blind. Many also offer classes and support groups for family members of blind or severely visually impaired people.

• More than 20 million Americans report experiencing significant vision loss.

• For centuries, the "cane" was used merely as a tool for travel and it was not until the twentieth century that the cane, as we know it today, was promoted for use by the blind as a symbol to alert others to the fact that an individual was blind.

• The first special White Cane Ordinance was passed in December 1930 in Peoria, Illinois. It granted blind pedestrians protections and the right-of-way while carrying a white cane.

• In 1935, Michigan began promoting the white cane as a visible symbol for the blind. On February 25, 1936, ordinance was passed for the City of Detroit recognizing the white cane. To promote the new ordinance, a demonstration was held at City Hall where the blind and visually impaired were presented with white canes.

Happy White Cane Safety Day!

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