Awareness day October 15: White Cane Awareness Day

Since 1964, support has been shown for the blind and visually impaired community by creating the awareness day, White Cane Awareness Day.

A woman wearing sunglasses is crossing the street holding a white cane and a guide dog on a leash

History of White Cane Awareness Day

This national observance day was created after the National Federation of the Blind in the US actively fought for the rights of the blind in the 1960s, and eventually designated October 15th of each year as the White Cane Safety Day. Later, the emphasis shifted from safety to independence and therefore the name changed to White Cane Awareness Day.

The white cane - a symbol of independence

The white cane provides safety since other people can easily see it, but canes are most importantly a key contributor to the independence of blind and visually impaired individuals. It works as an extension of  an individual’s hands and arms to facilitate moving through spaces. Ultimately, it offers people the opportunity to explore their surroundings, which is essential to navigating independently.

Cane colors

It is good to know that sometimes the color of the cane indicates the type or level of sight loss. An all-white cane typically means the person is totally blind or has no usable vision. A white cane with a red bottom means that the person has low vision or some usable vision. A white cane with red stripes usually means the person is deafblind, so has both vision and hearing loss.

What to do when you see a cane

There is no need to actively help someone that uses a cane unless you are asked to. But, when driving or cycling you are required by law to give the person the right of way.