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White Cane Safety Day

On October 15th annually, Americans celebrate White Cane Safety Day. This day celebrates the lives of the blind and visually impaired. It also serves as an awareness and appreciation day for white canes, which the blind or visually impaired use to guide themselves

There are many ways Americans celebrate this holiday:

  • Ceremonies for the blind or visually impaired
  • Promote availability of services to help these citizens
  • Educational events
  • Public service announcements
  • Walks
  • Celebration of prominent blind or visually impaired people
  • White cane awareness, which is supported by the Lions Club International and the National Federation of the Blind

History

The National Federation of the Blind campaigned for a White Cane Safety Day in 1963 by asking ever state to adopt the holiday, which a few did. However, congress passed the holiday into law in 1964.

There have been a large number of successful and famous blind and visually impaired people. The most widely known is Helen Keller, who grew up to become an educator, author, and activist. Keller was the first person who was deaf/blind to graduate college in the US. As a child, an illness caused her to become both blind and deaf, causing behavioral problems—she was not able to make much sense of her surroundings, causing a social barrier that incited such behavior as walking from person to person at the dinner table to grab a handful of food off their plate. With the help of patient teachers, Keller learned sign language and began to learn about the world in understandable terms.

Ray Charles was a rhythm and blues musician whose influence is credited with adding soulful elements to music across several genres, including pop and country music. He most often played the piano when he performed.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt had impaired vision. Harriet Tubman, a leading abolitionist who helped hundreds of slaves through the Underground Railroad. Before she herself escaped from slavery, she suffered from a head wound inflicted by the slave owner, resulting in an impairment.

The White Cane

The white cane is the tool used by many blind and visually impaired people as a mobility and navigational tool. White canes came into usage after World War II, allowing many of them more freedom and flexibility with their movement. The canes can help prevent them from running into people or objects.

There are five varieties of white canes. The long cane is the most widely known type, sometimes referred to as the Hoover cane after its inventor, Dr. Richard Hoover. Guide canes are shorter and more mobile. Some blind or visually impaired people use an identification cane to alert others to their impairment. Support canes are used for stability rather than mobility. The last type, the kiddie cane, is made for use by children.

White Cane Safety Day
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