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

Why I Use the White Cane

Empish crossing street with white caneAs a blind person I use a mobility aid called the white cane. Initially I did not use a white cane because my vision was still very good; but over time I lost depth perception and peripheral vision. This meant that I could not see on the sides of me, only straight ahead. Also looking down became fuzzy and blurry, so stairs and sidewalk curbs were difficult to navigate. I got training on the use of the white cane, right here at CVI. A certified orientation and mobility instructor met with me one-on-one and taught me how to properly use the cane. Over the years I have found this device to not only be beneficial but essential to my mobility and travel. Each day before I leave the house I grab my house keys and my white cane, which I always have propped up on the wall by the front door. My white cane has enabled me to travel safely and confidently by detecting stairs, sidewalk curbs, doorways and obstacles along the way. It gives me the added security and protection I need so that I don’t stumble, fall or run into things. My white cane also identifies me as being a person with a vision impairment. When people see my white cane they have a better understanding of my situation and can respond accordingly.

When I first started using my white cane I learned how to cross busy streets and intersections. I learned how important it was to have my white cane directly in front of my body so that motorist could see it clearly. To a motorist driving down the street or hovering at a street light; the white cane stands out because of its color and the red strips help deflect a vehicle’s headlights.

Today is White Cane Safety Day and through my years of travel, I have learned how important it is to know and be aware of the laws that protect white cane travelers. The first 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.

It is important that motorist know and obey the rules of the road, including posted speeds. For those of you who drive, please be a courteous and cautious driver. Please remember to observe the White Cane Law so that we all can travel safely to our destinations.

So, do you use a white cane? How has your white cane assisted you with traveling around Atlanta? Are you familiar with the White Cane Safety law? Share your thoughts and comments and let’s discuss the use of the white cane.

Comments

Hi Betsy, Thank you for commenting on this post and I am glad that you found it helpful. To get better direction and advice on using a white cane please call me at CVI or you can e-mail me too. The number is 404-875-9011 and my e-mail address is ethomas@cviga.org. But as far as driving, I stopped that a long time ago! LOL! When I lost vision where I could not see the side mirrors I knew that I would not be able to drive. I was actually in the process of getting my driver's license when this happened.

Comment by Empish; October 18, 2014 11:43am

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