Sightseeing. A periodic tour of CVI news, views and events.

CVI's SightSeeing Blog

Welcome to CVI's SightSeeing Blog! Here we discuss topics of interest and importance to the community.

Some of the information posted here includes personal stories from CVI clients, perspectives from CVI's expert staff, hot topic issues in government, the latest trends in technology for the visually impaired, and much more. Our desire is that this blog is a useful tool to enlighten, educate and provide needed information in a meaningful dialogue for both the blind and sighted communities. Join us as we invite you to share and discuss the topics with us.

Please note: Blog comments are not to be interpreted as a direct endorsement by the Center for the Visually Impaired. If you have any questions or comments regarding the blog posts, please send them to Lara Tillery at

Atlanta Radio Theater Company Hosts Classical Christmas Presentation to Benefit CVI

Picture of individuals performing at the radio theatreAre you ready for some holiday cheer? Want an activity you can enjoy with friends and family? Want to contribute to CVI? Then look no further. The Atlanta Radio Theatre Company is proud to host once again its presentation of An Atlanta Christmas at the Academy Theatre. In a season awash with Marley’s Ghost from London and Sugarplum Fairies from Germany, the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company brings you back home to the Deep South with a series of stories told in audio to inspire the imagination. Poignant and funny, it will bring back precious memories of Christmas past and our city’s past.

This classical Christmas production will be held on two days: Saturday, December 12th at 8:00 p.m.; and Sunday, December 13th at 2:30 p.m. Tickets for all seats are $10. But you can get guarantee seating through presale on their website. In the spirit of giving, ARTC has once again named the Center for the Visually Impaired as their Partner in this Christmas production and will be donating 25% of total ticket sales to their effort.

Performers at the radio theatreThe Atlanta Radio Theatre Company has been bringing quality audio drama to listeners around the world since 1984. Their unique, immersive and dramatic technique will feed your imagination and inspire your senses with realistic sound effects and stirring musical scores.

One of dozens, if not hundreds, of small-press audio publishers worldwide, ARTC is one of the few to perform live as well as in the studio. With no sets, costumes, or makeup to set up or apply, our pre-show time is spent transforming the space into an immersive sonic habitat suitable for the most creative imaginations. There is Adventure in Sound!

For more information or to order tickets contact the Academy Theatre, 146 Burke Street, Stockbridge, Georgia 30281. Box office telephone: 404-474-8332. Website:

Photos by Caran Wilbanks

Kitchen Aides for Successful Holiday Cooking

It is that time of year when family and friends gather for warm cups of cider or hot chocolate, friendly conversation, laughter and of course lots of delicious things to eat. For those of us who are blind and visually impaired there is no reason that our vision loss should keep us from joining in on the fun and festivities. People with vision loss can cook and prepare dishes for office potlucks, holiday brunches or family dinners. With a little help from some assistive aides and devices found at CVI’s VisAbility Store, you can enjoy holiday cooking too. So get ready to rattle those pots and pans!

Picture of Sili SlingEver had problems removing a hot turkey from the pan to the serving platter? This really useful item can remedy this problem. It is called the Sili Sling and can be used to transfer a whole turkey. You place the sling under your raw turkey prior to cooking. The sling is made from silicone material that will not burn or melt and stays in place while your poultry cooks. It comes in the color red and has holes in the bottom for draining the hot juices from the meat. When your turkey is ready just use the grips on both sides to hoist that golden bird out and place on your platter.

Now, that you’ve got that turkey cooking, how do you know when it is done? Well, just use the talking meat thermometer and no more confusion or half cooked meats. The thermometer has a removable cover and pressing only one simple button will give a verbal temperature reading along with a large visual digital display. The top has a clip to hang for easy storage.

Picture of Voice Zone thermometerIn addition to the talking meat thermometer, use the Voice Zone Talking Timer to avoid burning your turkey or under cooking that squash soufflé. This timer has a clock feature. By pressing the side lever you can switch between modes of count-up, and count-down. The clock counts down the minutes and hours to help your dishes come out perfectly from the oven. Or you can use a low vision tactile timer. It is about the size of a small wall clock with large numbers in a black/white contrast. Just turn the dial to the amount of time you want and the timer will ding when the time is up.

When you get ready to remove your turkey from the oven use the long arm mittens. They are about 17-inches long and go up to the elbow protecting not only your hands, but wrist and arm. They are flame retardant. Great item when removing that hot bubbly macaroni and cheese, cornbread, green bean casserole or my favorite-sweet potato pie!

Now that you got your turkey out of the way, let’s look at some devices that can help with sides and yummy desserts. Measuring for recipes can call for precision and accuracy; and too much or two little of an ingredient can ruin a favorite dish. Need just a pinch of salt? Or what about a quarter teaspoon of pepper? Low Vision Easy Measure Salt and Pepper Shakers are exactly what you need. They come in two colors; white for salt and black for pepper with measurements written at the top of the shaker in opposite contrasting color.

Picture of talking scaleThe My Weigh Talking Food Scale is an excellent measuring device. It is battery operated and comes with a plastic round container to sit on top of its flat surface. Just place your item you need to weigh, such as meats, vegetables or fruits and the scale will verbally read the measurements either in grams or ounces. The talking measuring cup is another great device that gives a verbal read out. The measuring cup sits inside a removable base with a flip lid. Just pour your ingredients such as flour or sugar for those favorite chocolate chip cookies or oil for brownies and the measuring cup will verbally indicate the amount by cup, ounces, milliliters, and grams. The measuring cup is dishwasher and microwaveable safe. One last item for measuring is the Metal spice spoons. These spoons are excellent for those dishes that require spices or herbs. They have high sides that help avoid spills and are attached together to keep from misplacing.

For cutting up fruits and vegetables use the low vision cutting board. One side is black while the other is white. This cutting board provides great contrast on the black side when slicing white onions, cauliflower or white potatoes. Use the white site of the cutting board for green peppers, yellow squash, red apples or orange pumpkins and carrots.

Whether you jus want to cook a simple holiday meal or a five course dinner party these low vision and blind kitchen aids will help any meal you prepare be a great success. Now let’s sit down and eat!

For more information on purchasing these kitchen aids and many more visit the CVI’s VisAbility Store in person or online. To make your holiday cooking even better the VisAbility Store is offering special discount promotion codes that are all good through December 31, 2015!

  • Get $15.00 off a purchase of $100.00 (Use coupon code HOL1515)
  • Get $35.00 off a purchase of $250.00 (Use coupon code HOL1535)
  • Get $100.00 off a purchase of $750.00 (Use coupon code HOL15100)
  • Get $200.00 off a purchase of $1,500.00 (Use coupon code HOL15200)
  • Get $300.00 off a purchase of $2,750.00 (Use coupon code HOL15300)

VisAbility LogoVisAbility is located on the first floor of CVI at 739 West Peachtree Street, NW. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. But for special holiday shopping the store will change its hours this month. December 14-December23rd, the store will open one hour early from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. On Christmas Eve, Thursday, December 24th, the store will be open from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. Additionally, the store will be open one Saturday--December 12th from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

For two days in December there will be a Holiday Super Sale! In addition to offering extended holiday hours throughout the month of December, the store will be hosting a special savings event on Friday, December 11 and Saturday, December 12. On these two days customers who visit the store in person can enjoy savings of up to 40% on selected items, as well as refreshments and other special offers. Of course, the VisAbility Store is always open 24/7 online at For more information call 404-602-4358.

CVI Hosts Support Group for Visually Impaired Diabetics

Picture of Lynn Miller working with clientAt CVI we are aware and understand that vision loss and diabetes can go hand in hand. As the number of people with diabetes grows in this country so does the possibility of losing vision to this disease. This month the nation focuses on diabetes awareness; but at CVI the focus is daily. According to the American Diabetes Association, the number one cause of new vision loss cases in this country for people under 65 is diabetes. CVI recognizes this startling statistic and not only provides classes on diabetic management but a weekly support group as well. “I attend the support group to receive continuing motivation and support when battling my diabetes,” said one group member.

Since the late 90s, the group has assisted blind and visually impaired clients in managing their diabetes. "The support group was created to help form a social network for people with both diabetes and vision loss,” said Lynn Miller, CVI’s Diabetes Resource Coordinator and VRT. “There are very few of these groups around the nation, but they are catching on.”

Miller goes on to say, “this group helps people cope with daily challenges of good diabetes self-management such as: knowing the devices and skills necessary for blood glucose control, nutrition guidelines and meal planning, foot care, medication administration and how to independently dose and inject insulin.”

Picture of kettle bellsAdditionally, CVI’s diabetes group focuses on exercise and attending diabetes conferences and expos. “Since exercise is medicine for blood glucose control, we have incorporated physical fitness for people who are blind or visually impaired,” said Miller. Inside of CVI’s building there is an exercise room that includes two exercise bikes, a stair climber, weight machines, dumbbells and exercise balls. All exercise equipment has been properly labeled so that a visually impaired person can use them independently. In past years, the members have also participated in the ADA annual Step out Walk for Diabetes at a local park. Members were given sighted guide assistance by a volunteer to walk and participate.

Each year Miller and a group of sighted volunteers escort the support group members to local diabetes conferences. There the group members can peruse the exhibit tables gathering information and resources. They can also attend lectures, healthy cooking demonstrations and meet other diabetics. “The support group is a safe place to discuss diabetes with peers and attend local diabetes conferences and expos,” said one group member.

On occasion during their meetings, support group members will have guest speakers. Some of them come from the medical community discussing various advances in diabetic medications. Others come from social services discussing how Medicare/Medicaid impacts diabetics. “Some clients are uninsured and have no medical care when they first arrive in diabetes group,” said Miller. “The group provides a place where each member can share what works for them and how to find affordable services and devices.” There has even been a guest speaker that focused on proper foot care and gave pedicures, for a nominal fee, to clients. She instructed them on appropriate wound care, the importance of nail clipping and how valuable massaging your feet and toes can be to circulation.

All of these elements make for a powerful and supportive environment for those with vision loss. Members learn important strategies and techniques for diabetic management, get access to information and resources and build long-lasting relationships with others. When dealing with both diabetes and vision loss it is essential to have a place where you can get help, support and encouragement. CVI provides that and more in their diabetes support group. “I am glad the group exists because I receive new information and resources on diabetes,” said one group member. “I have learned proper meal preparation and how to use accessible diabetes supplies and devices.”

Are you visually impaired and dealing with diabetes? Do you want a supportive place to discuss diabetes management? If so, the group meets Mondays from 10:15 a.m. until 12:15 p.m. at CVI. For more information on the diabetes group call 404-875-9011.

Support CVI on Georgia Gives Day

GA Gives Day logoThe 2015 Georgia Gives Day will take place tomorrow, Thursday, November 12th. Georgia Gives Day is sponsored by the Georgia Center for Nonprofits and allows the local community to pick a nonprofit to support and help them raise as much money as possible within a 24-hour period.

Last year, CVI raised over $8,000. This year, we want to raise at least $5,000 and hopefully, a lot more! But we need your help to reach our goal. CVI has once again been selected to participate in the SunTrust Foundation Financial Wellness Challenge on Georgia Gives Day. We are one of 50 organizations across the state competing for an incentive grant ranging from $1,000 to $2,500. We need to raise at least $2,500 in order to be eligible for the match.

A $10, $25, $50 or $100 gift will help us continue our work in the community. So what does that donation actually look like, you might ask? Here is a breakdown of how your gift, no matter how big or small, can help someone with vision loss.

  • A $10 gift could purchase big number measuring cups and spoons for CVI’s teaching kitchen.
  • A $20 gift could supply the STARS after school program with 20/20 pens for students to complete their homework.
  • A $30 gift could help someone who is blind to tell time with a talking watch.
  • A $35 gift could provide someone who is blind with a white cane.
  • A $50 gift could help a senior read mail, pay bills and manage prescriptions using a 3.5x illuminated handheld magnifier.
  • A $100 gift could send a high school student to the STARS annual spring retreat.
  • A $100 gift could introduce elementary school students with vision loss to wildlife during a field trip to a nature center.
  • A $150 gift could teach a person with diabetes and vision loss to use a talking blood-glucose meter.

Picture of the BEGIN kids holding up a sign saying donate to CVIYou can donate anytime, but tomorrow is the BIG DAY. Please help us spread the word to your family, friends and colleagues. Ask them to support and give to CVI on Thursday, November 12th.

To make a donation, visit

You can even become a personal fundraiser and advocate for us. Visit and click BECOME A FUNDRAISER. Determine how much you want to raise on our behalf and share with your friends through social media.

Remember, you can donate anytime, but tomorrow is the BIG DAY! Thank you in advance for your support of CVI on Georgia Gives Day 2015!

Why Can’t We Serve: A Public Awareness Campaign About the Disabled Serving in Active Duty

Editor’s note: Veterans Day is quickly approaching and will be here next week. As we get ready to honor and commemorate the men and women that have served our country, let’s think about those with disabilities as well. This blog post brings a different perspective to serving in the military for the disabled community.

Picture of Marty KleinFor over twenty years, I have had a desire to help upgrade the standard of living for all people with disabilities by getting the people of our country to see how our military has been, and still is, discriminating against us in one very specific way. Since the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 and the more recent incredible advances in technology, there is absolutely no reason why the military couldn’t allow intelligent, enthusiastic and responsible people with disabilities to join the armed forces in noncombat positions, and have the opportunity to serve our country. However, at this moment it is not possible because in order to enlist you must pass a physical exam and be clear of certain medical conditions that people with disabilities can’t possibly meet. But a great example of non-combat jobs are all computer related positions, which today is likely to be more than half the jobs done in the military. These positions, with some accommodations, could be done by disabled people. So why can’t we serve?

Part of the reason I am passionate about this is that I lost my sight while serving in the Air Force. I was discharged in 1970 as my vision was getting worse. I was listed as totally blind in November of 1971. I had originally gone into the military because I wasn’t happy in college. So, I enlisted, and that way I thought that I wouldn’t have to be drafted and sent to fight in Vietnam. It was 1967 and the war in Vietnam was intensifying. But after losing my vision the next seven years or so were incredibly difficult. But through it all I found a way to navigate this challenge and today I am actively involved in my community in Woodstock, New York, do yoga every day, sing and play music with friends. I also have written 3 books and 2 screen plays, started a holistic learning center in Tallahassee, Florida years ago called Southern Springs, and created a yoga program called “Beginning Yoga for the Blind and Visually Impaired.” You can learn more about it at

Over the years, I have become a strong advocate for empowering people with disabilities. In the mid-1990s, I started the Disable Social Hour, a monthly gathering for people with disabilities in Tallahassee, Florida. Later I created a website called Blind Spots which gave movie reviews for blind and visually impaired people information about the ease or difficulty of watching a movie with sighted assistance. So, now seems to be the perfect time for me to combine my skills with those of others and bring this important issue into the light.

I’m also deeply saddened by the daily acts of suicide committed by our veterans, many who have returned from combat with permanent disabilities. I’d like to see wounded soldiers who return from combat to have the option of staying in the military, if they choose, with a chance to make a career out of it.

I’m sure this would help reduce the rate of suicides and boost the morale among vets. Right now, this also is not possible.

Why Can't We Serve logoI believe a full-length documentary about this whole subject would, at the very least, expose the inequity and start a national conversation, and at best, could cause sweeping changes in how the public views people with disabilities. In addition, the documentary may very well be a catalyst that helps raise the consciousness regarding disabled vets, as well as raising the standard of living for all disabled people. I have contracted with a wonderful filmmaker, and together we plan to combine my life story, as an inspirational model of what is possible, with images of past American heroes who were disabled. Additionally we want to interview senators and congressmen who would like to support this issue.

To learn more about my public awareness campaign please visit the website Why can’t We

Delta Gammas Volunteer with CVI’s STARS and BEGIN Programs

The Atlanta alumnae chapter of Delta Gamma first got involved with CVI many years ago, close to our founding here in the city. The first chapter president, Marianne Lee, was close to the Hendersons, and she and her husband Buddy have supported CVI through the years.

In December 2007, I was elected VP: Foundation of the Delta Gamma chapter at the University of Georgia. This position is responsible for service, awareness, and philanthropic fundraising for our national philanthropy, Service for Sight. Coincidentally, I was also diagnosed with choroidal melanoma, a malignant tumor of the eye located behind my retina, in the same month. After a scary few weeks, I had a surgery to attach a radioactive plaque to my eye to kill the tumor. 5 days after my first surgery, the plaque was removed, but my vision suffered due to the damage to my retina. I have been cancer-free and “legally blind” in my right eye ever since. I am not considered visually impaired Because the vision of my left eye is currently corrected by glasses, but if I should somehow lose sight in that eye, I would likely need the extensive services provided by CVI. In summer 2008, I toured CVI with my mom, so I could better understand our philanthropic aim. I learned about the many programs CVI offers and left my tour so impressed with the many ways CVI can assist its clients- BEGIN’s preschool classes; STARS’ afterschool programs; New View’s career services and assistive technology! I also left with a lot of literature to pass along to my sisters back in Athens in order to brainstorm ways we could work with CVI.

Picture of the Delta Gamma's dancing with the STARS kids. Today, the collegiate chapter assists our alumnae chapter with setting up and dancing with the STARS students at the Red and White Ball each winter. Our alumnae chapter has provided the food, DJ, venue, decorations, and play auction items for this event for nearly 15 years. It is our favorite event each year and brings so many DGs together to celebrate the night with the STARS students! One of my favorite moments each year (aside from the “line dances” like the Wobble), is the crowning of the king and queen of the Ball! This past year, Tony Velo was a repeat king, and the collegiate chapter’s “adopted lil sis” McClain Hermes was crowned queen! The UGA chapter often attends McClain’s swim meets and learns so much about her experience as a teen with a visual impairment. The UGA chapter was connected to McClain through Heather Dicks, STARS Director, so we are so thankful for the connections CVI has provided us in serving those with visual impairments.

Picture of Megan SpellmanOur chapter also enjoys volunteering at BEGIN’s Spring Fling each year. We provide breakfast and help with any activities as needed for these little ones to enjoy a spring tradition of locating beeping eggs. Our current vp: Foundation, Megan Spellman, is hard at work to discover new events or efforts to which all DGs in the area can contribute. She has big plans for themed supply drives each month in order to help replenish supplies for CVI and STARS. She is also involved in planning upcoming fundraisers, to be announced, to benefit CVI as well as our national Foundation. We hope to promote each event to involve you, the CVI community, to help us really make an impact here!

I am so lucky to have gotten connected with the wonderful CVI community, namely Heather Dicks and Lara Tillery. They have kept me connected with so many events, resources, and knowledge that have helped me be a more competent vp: Foundation, school psychologist, and accessibility services professional. Thank you for allowing me to share a little of our chapter’s history with and passion for CVI!

Focus on the Hospitality Industry What's on the Menu: a Review of Menu Accessibility on Chain Restaurant Websites Part I

Editor’s note: This article was reprinted with permission from the AFB AccessWorld Magazine August, 2015 issue. We have broken it down into a two part series because of Ingber’s thorough research on 5 restaurants. This is part one.

Many chain restaurants have websites that include their menus. This can be a great convenience if you'd like to know what they offer in advance of visiting, or if you want to order online or by phone. This article will review the online menu accessibility of the Applebee's, Denny's, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, and Red Lobster restaurant chains. Keep in mind that many local restaurants also have their menus online, not just large chains.

Of course, if you're at the actual restaurant and you have an OCR app such as KNFB Reader or Abbyy TextGrabber, you can photograph the menu and hope the app reads it comprehensibly. Another option is to have a person with you read the menu aloud.

Both Internet Explorer for Windows and Safari for Mac were used to evaluate website menus. Window-Eyes was the screen reader used for Internet Explorer and VoiceOver was used for Safari.

1. Applebee's Online Menu Accessibility for People with Visual Impairments

Applebee's is a chain of family restaurants serving a wide variety of foods including burgers, steaks, pasta, and chicken. The restaurants stay open late and offer a menu for kids.

Picture of a hamburgerApplebee's website did not have any clutter. Navigating the site with the headings, links, Tab key, or Arrows worked well in both Internet Explorer and Safari.

When I loaded for the first time, the site loaded with a nearby Applebee's location on the homepage. It wasn't the closest Applebee's, but it wasn't very far. Activating the "Location" link near the top of the page presents a search box. Results are clearly displayed. With each result was a link for viewing the local menu.

When the menu page loads, use heading or link keys for navigation. The menu is broken down into categories, including Entrees & Main Dishes, New Apps & Bar Snacks, Handcrafted Burgers, Kids, and Lunch Combos.

Activating the "Handcrafted Burgers" link presented a new page with a list of the many types of burgers served at the Applebee's location I had selected. Individual burgers could be located with headings or link hot keys. Each entry contained the name of the burger, what was on it, and the price. Activating the name link loaded another page with information about social media.

A Nutritional Info link, which opens a PDF document, is provided on all pages of the Applebee's menu. The VoiceOver Find command or the Window-Eyes Find command made it easier to find specific items and information. The PDF document had headings at the top of the page rather than next to the number. For example, "calories" was a table heading, but the heading did not appear next to the number of calories for an item.


The Applebee's website worked well with both Safari and Internet Explorer. It was a bit cumbersome to read the nutrition PDF document, but using the screen reader's Find command helped.

2. Denny's Online Menu Accessibility for People with Visual Impairments

Denny's had a big online menu that includes categories such as Breakfasts, Sandwiches, and Dinner Entrees, along with an offering for kids. Links for these categories were located near the top of the page and were clearly labeled. There was also a link to download the full menu as a PDF file, but this feature did not work well with Safari or Internet Explorer.

Picture of an omeletActivating the "Breakfast" link loaded a page with many options. Navigating by headings was an easy way to review the choices. Above each breakfast item heading was a picture with a description. For example, the description for the Belgian Waffle Slam listed all the items that came with that option. Below the heading was a "View Details" link.

On the next page, nutrition information such as calories, fat, and protein was presented in a vertical format that was easier to read than a table presentation. For example, next to the word "calories" was the number of calories in the dish. It was inconvenient that the item's price was not listed.


It was possible to find an item on the Denny's online menu and review its nutrition information with either browser. Including prices would improve the experience. The inaccessibility of the menu's PDF file was a disappointment.

3. Olive Garden Online Menu Accessibility for People with Visual Impairments

Olive Garden serves moderately priced Italian food and includes a menu for kids.

The Olive Garden homepage presented a lot of information, but it was not cluttered. There were some headings. Links were clearly labeled. The Find hot key was a useful navigation option.

Picture of a plate of penne pastaWhen the home page loaded, I was immediately asked to allow Olive Garden to access my location. I chose to not allow access. With both Internet browsers, this made it impossible to get to the list of items within each menu category without first manually providing location information. Every page has an edit box plus instructions to put in a city or zip code before navigating. Once that information was provided, a list of the closest restaurants was presented. Each listing contained the restaurant name, address, phone number, and a "View Menu" link. Once a restaurant was selected and that link was activated, the menu could be accessed.

The menu for the selected restaurant could be viewed as a grid (default) or a list. The Dinner menu contained many items including appetizers and main courses. Just above the selection for grid or list view is a link to show more categories. When this link was activated, the entire Olive Garden menu was displayed in specific categories including Appetizers, Lighter Italian Fare, Traditional Favorites, and Create your Own Lunch Combination.

Selecting the Lighter Italian Fare link loaded several options. Each option included the price and a link to more information. Selecting an option loaded a page with a description of the dish. Below the description was a heading labeled Nutrition Facts and a link labeled Expand. The information can be read without activating the Expand link, but for VoiceOver, the table was easier to read when expanded. All the column headings were listed first and then the numbers were displayed. This made it a bit difficult to read, but it was certainly decipherable.


The site works well with both Internet Explorer and Safari. Letting Olive Garden know your location will save you extra work. Unfortunately, the nutrition information was presented in an awkward way.

Stay tuned for the next installment where Ingber will continue her review of the accessibility of two more menus at chain restaurants. But in the meantime, do you dine at any of the above chain restaurants? If so have you use the on-line menu? If you are visually impaired have you found accessing the menu easy or hard? Do you use any type of assistive technology or low vision aid to read menus when dining out? Share your thoughts and comments with us.

Why is the White Cane White and Other Facts

Picture of a stick figure with a white cane that says white cane safety dayHave you ever wondered why the white cane is white and not some other color? Who made the decision for the color white and not black, blue, red or even orange or yellow? When did the blind start using white canes anyway? Well, since today is National White Cane Safety Day I thought it would be fitting to do a little digging into the history of the white cane and the safety law around traveling with it.

Prior to the use of the official white cane people who were blind and/or visually impaired used staffs, sticks and canes as instruments in their modes of travel. These tools were use more to alert the blind person to obstacles in their path rather than for identification purposes. It was not until the 20th century that the “cane” was use to identify if the person had a visual impairment. During the times of the two World Wars canes began to be used by people with vision loss; first starting in Europe and then branching out into the United States. According to the American Council for the Blind’s website James Biggs of Bristol claimed to have invented the white cane in 1921. After an accident claimed his sight, the artist had to readjust to his environment. Worried by the increased motor vehicle traffic around his home, Biggs decided to paint his walking stick white to make himself more visible to motorists.

But it was not until ten years later that the white cane established its presence in society. A national white stick movement for blind people in France was launched. The campaign was duplicated in England and was sponsored by Rotary clubs throughout the United Kingdom.

But in the United States it was the Lion's Clubs International that helped introduced the white cane to the blind community. It was said that in 1930, a Lion's Club member watched as a blind man attempted to make his way across a busy street using a black cane. Realizing that the black cane was barely visible to motorists, the Lion's Club decided to paint the cane white to increase its visibility. In 1931, the Lion's Club International began a national program promoting the use of white canes for persons who were blind Throughout the 1920s and 1930s.

picture of someone walking with white caneUp to this time, blind people were using their white canes primarily as symbols of blindness not as a mobility aid. But when the blind veterans of World War II returned, the form and the use of the white cane changed. This was an attempt to get veterans active and involved in society again. Doctor Richard Hoover developed the "long cane" or "Hoover" method of cane travel. These white canes were designed to be used as mobility aids and returned the cane to its original role as a tool for mobility, while maintaining the symbolism of blindness.

Also, during this time the white cane began to move into the political scene and state legislation around the white cane began to be passed. The first two states to past safety ordnances were Illinois and Michigan. The ordnances protected white cane pedestrians by giving them the right of way and recognizing that the white cane was a symbol of blindness. In the early 1960's, several state organizations and rehabilitation agencies serving the blind and visually impaired encouraged Congress to proclaim October 15th of each year to be White Cane Safety Day in all fifty states. This event marked an exciting moment in the long campaign to gain state as well as national recognition for the white cane.

So, National White Cane Day was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964. It designated October 15th as National White Cane Safety Day. Georgia went a step further and created a state law and protection for those pedestrians that use a white cane.

Here is a summary of the law:

  1. Only people who are blind or visually impaired should travel with a white cane.
  2. When a motorist comes in contact with a person traveling with a white cane at an intersection that driver should come to an immediate stop to avoid injury or harm to the white cane traveler.
  3. Any person who is in violation of the above will be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Now that you know why the white cane is white, do you find that motorists stop for it? Do you think that people see the white cane as a mobility aid and symbol of visual impairment? For those that aare reading this post and use a white cane, do you have to explain its useage a lot or barely at all? What things do you think can be done to make peple more aware of the use of the white cane? Share your thoughts and ideas with us.