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White Cane Safety Day

White Cane Safety Day

White Cane Safety Day is observed annually on October 15. It’s a day dedicated to visually impaired people. The white cane represents their remarkable achievements and symbolizes their independence.

History of White Cane Safety Day

Traveling aids for the blind, like canes, staff, and sticks, have been around for a long time, but it was only in the 20th century that white canes came into existence and became a symbol used by the blind to alert others.
It is said that James Biggs, a photographer from Bristol, was the one who came up with the concept of white canes. In 1921, Biggs met with an accident, which resulted in blindness. The number of road vehicles rose during that period, so Biggs decided to paint his cane white to be easily visible to motorists and other pedestrians.
In France, musician and writer Guilly d’Herbemont launched a scheme for the blind named the National White Stick Movement. She handed over white canes to many blind people throughout France, including WWI veterans. This was well-received in the United Kingdom as well. The United Kingdom proposed that blind people be given white canes and that it be universally recognized as an indicator that the person carrying them was blind.
In the United States, it was the Lions Clubs International that suggested the idea of giving white canes to the blind. For the war veterans, the long white rods not only acted as an identifier but also as a tool used for mobility.
On October 6, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson and the U.S. Congress signed a joint resolution and proclaimed that October 15 be celebrated as White Cane Safety Day every year.

White Cane Safety Day Timeline

Canes are Painted, White
James Biggs, a blind man from Bristol, paints his cane white to be more noticeable to motorists.

National White Stick Movement
Guilly d’Herbemont from France gifts white canes to the visually impaired.

The Hoover Method is Developed
Richard E. Hoover at Valley Forge Army Hospital developed and taught the ‘Hoover Method’ or the ‘Long Cane’ method to many blind citizens.

White Cane Safety Day
President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed October 15 to be observed as White Cane Safety Day.

How to observe White Cane Safety Day

  1. Distribute white canes
  2. What better way to celebrate this day than by giving white canes to people who need them? Many visually impaired people still do not possess a white club. Get some white clubs and distribute them among those in need.
  3. Educate people about white cane laws
  4. Many people are unaware of white cane laws, such as a blind individual with a white cane has the right of way. This includes both people who are blind and people who are sighted. Make use of this day to spread awareness about white cane laws. You can either conduct seminars in your neighbourhood or do them online.
  5. Do something special for the blind
  6. This would be the perfect opportunity to remind those who suffer from loss of sight that they are so much more than their impairment. If you have a blind person in your community or circle, show them some love by doing something that will impact their lives. Tell them about career opportunities and laws they are unaware of, or help them learn braille if they haven’t already.

5 Facts about White Cane Safety Day

  1. They have the right of way
  2. A blind pedestrian with a white cane or a guide dog has the right of way.
  3. Do not honk your horn
  4. It would help if you did not honk your horn at a blind person as they wouldn’t know where the sound is coming from and may become startled by the noise.
  5. Stop your vehicle 10 feet away
  6. You must stop your vehicle before approaching closer than 10 feet to a pedestrian with a white cane or a mobility device.
  7. Everyone cannot carry a white cane
  8. A white cane is a punishable offence unless you are partially or fully blind.
  9. There are three types of white canes

There is the standard cane for navigation, the support cane for mobility, and the I.D. cane for people with partial sight.

Why White Cane Safety Day is important

  1. There are millions of visually impaired people
  2. It is estimated that over 250 million people worldwide are visually impaired. White Cane Safety Day is a day to appreciate the achievements of blind people.
  3. It is a reminder to help those who are visually impaired
  4. This day allows reaching out to the people that might need your help. You can attend meetings and events organized on White Cane Safety Day and do something that will help visually impaired people
  5. It is a day to celebrate the symbol of independence
  6. White canes are the symbol of freedom for the visually impaired. This day calls for learning and educating people about the importance of this tool and celebrating this symbol of freedom.

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