Many blind and visually impaired people, including famous musicians and writers, have made major positive contributions in the United States. Many have also used a white cane to help them succeed at educational institutions, work environments, and their homes. The first of the state laws regarding the right of blind people to travel independently with the white cane was passed in 1930. It granted blind pedestrians protection and the right-of-way while carrying a white cane.
In 1963, the National Federation of the Blind called upon the governors from every state to proclaim October 15 of each year as White Cane Safety Day. At the time, only a few people achieved enough independence to travel alone on busy highways. The United States Congress, by joint resolution approved on October 6, 1964, designated October 15 of each year as White Cane Safety Day. By 1978, the number of visually impaired people who achieved a lot of independence through the white cane had greatly increased. Promotions on the benefits of the white cane proved to be successful and they are still continuing.
Organizations, such as Lions Clubs International and the National Federation of the Blind, organize promotional activities involving the public as part of a goal to help to increase awareness of the use of the white cane and the laws that govern its use. Activities such as visual displays, walks, meetings, public service announcements, and the distribution of t-shirts reminding people about the day are all part of the day’s activities. White Cane Safety Day also reminds people that motor vehicles and pedestrians should yield the right of way to blind or visually impaired people using canes.
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