Every year, October 15th marks National White Cane Safety Day, a day which honors people who are blind or visually impaired. The white cane is a symbol of their fight for rights, security, and acceptable living conditions, as well as the opportunity to be useful to society. Currently, there are over 270 million people with visual impairments worldwide, making this day all the more important.
Canes, staffs, and sticks have long been used by visually impaired and blind people to assist them in transportation. In the 20th century, the concept of a white cane was conceived by Bristol photographer James Biggs, who was blinded in an accident. With the rising number of cars on the road, Biggs painted his cane white so that motorists could spot him from a distance and slow down.
In 1931, Guilly d’Herbemont founded the National Movement of the White Stick in France, providing white canes to blind people, including veterans of WWI. Soon, the United Kingdom joined the program, making white canes a globally recognized symbol. In 1964, the US Congress, along with President Lyndon B. Johnson, signed a resolution establishing National White Cane Safety Day.
- In 1944, Richard E. Hoover developed the “long cane” method at Valley Forge Army Hospital.
- A white cane with a red tip signifies that the person holding it is both blind and deaf.
- White canes are typically made from aluminum, carbon, or fiberglass for strength and lightness.
- According to traffic rules, if a motorist sees someone with a white cane, they should stop their car at least 10 feet away.
How to take part
There are a variety of ways to get involved in National White Cane Safety Day. Read up on how you can help the visually impaired, make donations to charitable organizations that support them, or gift white canes to friends with poor vision. Doing so will give them greater confidence in their surroundings.
When is National White Cane Safety Day celebrated in 2023?
National White Cane Safety Day is observed on October 15 each year.