White Cane Safety Day celebrates 50th anniversary

A joint resolution approved by Congress on October 6, 1964 authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim October 15 of each year as White Cane Safety Day. Legislation followed to protect the safety of pedestrians using a white cane. Today, there is a variant of the White Cane Law on the statute books of every state in the country.

White Cane Safety Day, also known as Blind Americans Equality Day, celebrates the numerous accomplishments and contributions of individuals who are blind or visually impaired, and it serves as a reminder that people who use a white cane deserve to travel safely. Thousands of blind and visually impaired individuals around the state of Wisconsin use a white cane for mobility and safe travel.

While a powerful tool for independence, the white cane is also a reminder to all drivers to obey Wisconsin’s White Cane Law:

“An operator of a vehicle shall stop the vehicle before approaching closer than 10 feet to a pedestrian who is carrying a cane or walking stick which is white in color or white trimmed with red and which is held in an extended or raised position or who is using a dog guide and shall take such precautions as may be necessary to avoid accident or injury to the pedestrian.”    – Statute N. 346.26(1)

Governor Walker signed a proclamation that recognizes October 15, 2014 as White Cane Safety Day in Wisconsin.  Speaking on behalf of the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired, Executive Director Loretta Himmelsbach remarked, “We urge all motorists to recognize individuals who use white canes or dog guides.”

The Council provides one free white cane every two years to individuals who qualify.  To learn more, visit www.wcblind.org or call 1-800-783-5213.