October 15th is National White Cane Safety Day in the United States. Blind and visually impaired people across the country take time to reflect on the white cane as a symbol of pride and independence.
The first of the state laws regarding the right of blind people to travel independently with the white cane was passed in 1930. In 1966, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, the founder of the National Federation of the Blind, drafted the model White Cane Law. This model act–which has become known as the Civil Rights Bill for the Blind, the Disabled, and the Otherwise Physically Handicapped–contains a provision designating October 15th as White Cane Safety Day. Today there is a variant of the White Cane Law on the law books of every state in the nation.
The White Cane Today
We talk a lot about guide dogs in this blog. That’s because Tevra Brands is passionate about pets and the healthcare solutions we develop to care for them. Tevra Brands also supports organizations that help pets help people “Live a Life Without Boundaries”. Tevra Brands partners with Leader Dogs for the Blind and promotes their mission to provide their clients a life of independence and mobility.
However, learning to use the white cane is a fundamental skill all people who are blind or visually impaired learn. In fact, all guide dog training centers in the United States require their clients to be familiar with the use of a white cane before they can learn to work with a dog. According to Guiding Eyes for the Blind, there are approximately 10,000 people in the United States that use guide dogs. This is a relatively small number, comprising just 2% of the blind/visually impaired population.
Leader Dogs for the Blind provides orientation and mobility (O & M) training where clients learn how to use a white cane to effectively know where you are, where you want to go and the skills to get to your destination. Leader Dogs is a one-week residential program. To learn more about Leader Dogs for the Blind’s O & M training click here.
Learning to travel independently, whether with a white cane or a guide dog, is incredibly empowering. We thank the visually impaired men and women who pioneered the movement towards independent travel and were responsible for founding National White Cane Safety Day. This day is a time for people to reflect on the significant strides in independence that have been made over the years for people who are blind or visually impaired.