Safety tips for celebrating White Cane Awareness Day
White canes aren’t just tools. They represent independence for many who are blind or visually impaired. Whether it’s a mobility cane to detect changes in elevation or obstacles, an identity cane supplemented by a sighted guide or a weight-bearing support cane, these aids offer a sense of independence.
“With proper training, people using a white cane can enjoy greater mobility and safety and once again feel independent,” Linda Zizos, Development Director with the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired said, "If you can imagine not being able to feel like you can safely walk around your block or cross the road bc you just don’t know about your footing, it can be frightening and it can keep people from venturing indoors."
The Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI) works alongside Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital to help with rehabilitation for individuals who have lost their sight. Zizos said White Cane Awareness Day is a vital safety reminder to sighted motorists and pedestrians alike.
“If you have something on your sidewalk that is an obstacle like some branches, or some bicycles or these motorized scooters that people leave around, please, please understand that can cause great danger,” she said.
The day also acts as a celebration for the white cane community, but while many may wish to come alongside their blind or visually impaired neighbors, Zizos gives reminders on etiquette.
“Please announce yourself before you approach somebody and not when you're right up next to them, and don’t assume somebody with a white cane needs assistance, just ask,” she said, adding that for most users white canes have become an extension of their body.