On International White Cane Day (October 15), we at Guide Dogs NSW/ACT want to highlight the need for awareness of white canes.
White Cane Day was created to highlight the important role mobility assistance devices play in helping people with low vision or blindness lead safe and independent lives.
This year, our campaign is celebrating the fun, fearless and adventurous spirit of our young clients and cane users who live life to the fullest, with many engaging in everything from skateboarding to gymnastics.
For many people with low vision and blindness, a white cane is one of the first tools they may learn how to use as part of orientation and mobility training, and for children, a white cane is often the key to their first experiences of independence and freedom. It is a tool they will count on throughout their life.
A white cane is the mobility tool of choice for the majority of Guide Dogs clients because of its practicality and the way it can give sensory feedback about the surrounding environment, but also its importance as a visual signifier to others in the community of low vision and blindness.
But right now, a white cane is more than a visual symbol that someone has low vision or blindness. It is also a visual symbol that the person using the white cane can't easily maintain a 1.5-metre distance from others.
We've heard many stories from our clients who are being increasingly cautious about what environments they travel in with their white cane, aware of the fact that they can't easily see others to socially distance.
This International White Cane Day, we are asking the community to be aware of people using a white cane. You can help them continue to move safely, confidently and independently through any environment, by giving them 1.5-metres of space.
I'd also like to thank everyone who has extended their support to Guide Dogs or our clients, or to anyone who has shown an extra bit of kindness to someone in need this year.