Monday is White Cane Safety Day, which is intended to raise awareness of safety issues for blind people on the streets.
An event was held at the Lions World Services for the Blind in Little Rock.
At the event, there was a demonstration by a student from the Arkansas School for the Blind of a two-point touch technique she uses with her cane to tell if there are any obstacles in front of her.
Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola was blind-folded and given a short lesson on how to use a white cane.
Stodola said, “It’s a good opportunity for making all of us, who are not visually impaired, very aware of the importance of respecting their right to live and have a great time on our streets and sidewalks as well.” Several organizations that help the blind took part in this event.
Katy Morris, Director of the Division of Services for the Blind at the state Department of Human Services, says more understanding by the public is needed.
“We have a high percentage of persons who are older, and with aging comes blindness and hearing impairment. So, there are great needs still in Arkansas,” said Morris.
Fred Robinson, the President of the Blind Veterans Association’s Arkansas chapter, says one of biggest dangers for blind people when they’re walking the streets is that cars are now quieter.
“The new electric automobiles… We go out to intersection and we listen to see if there’s something coming. These new automobiles don’t make any noise. And if you see someone using a cane, offer a help but don’t think that they can’t do it for themselves… Basically, it’s just being friends with people and treating people like you’d want to be treated to,” Robinson said.
White Cane Safety Day has been observed every year since President Johnson signed it into law in 1964.
Advocates for the blind say the white cane is a symbol of independence and it shows that blind people have the right of way.