White Cane Safety Day, also known as Blind Americans Equality Day, is commemorated every year on October 15. This date was officially proclaimed White Cane Safety Day in 1964 to gain recognition for the growing independence and self-sufficiency of blind or visually impaired people in the U.S., and also to gain recognition of the white cane as the symbol of reliance and self-sufficiency.
The purpose of White Cane Safety Day is to alert everyone on the importance of a white cane to a person who has a vision impairment. A white cane provides valuable independence for those with vision loss to be contributing members of our society through their employment, volunteer opportunities, faith communities or recreational activities. Below are some common beliefs and facts about the White Cane Law.
Belief: The White Cane Law is adequately covered in driver’s education.
Fact: While the White Cane Law is included in the Driver’s Manual, the degree of focus placed on the law in driver’s education classes is dependent on the instructor. There is no time requirement on the topic, so some instructors might cover it extensively, while others spend a short time-as little as a few minutes-talking about the law. Another issue is that people most often take driver’s education while adolescents. There is usually no need to take another written test going forward, unless a person has a driver’s license that has been expired for more than eight years or if they want to add another class and/or endorsement to an existing license. This limited review makes it difficult for people to remember something they learned briefly in driver’s education class for the rest of their lives.
Belief: Police officers know about the White Cane Law.
Fact: We thank police officers for their service on our roads and streets, especially those who are advocates for white cane safety. However, just like drivers, police might not be well informed about the law and how to recognize or handle a violation. In some cases, the driver is issued a citation, but not in all cases. It is important that we as members of the blind and visually impaired community undertake initiatives to provide education to police about knowing and enforcing this law.
Belief: White Cane Law is consistent across the United States.
For more information about the White Cane Law in each state, visit the website of the American Council of the Blind at acb.org/whitecane.