What is White Cane? Although sticks and canes have been used earlier, the white cane has been come for use since the 1930s. Simply, a White Cane is a safety tool made for blind people. But in today’s world, it is more than just a safety tool—a symbol of freedom, independence and confidence.
The path for it to be treated as a symbol was paved due to the initial step taken by the National Federation of the Blind. Due to the lack of trust towards some of the sighted people, the National Federation of the Blind in the United States of America became a front-runner in fighting for the rights of the Blind. As a result, World White Cane Day was declared to be celebrated on the 15th of October every year to honour the many achievements of blind and visually impaired Americans and to recognize the white cane’s significance in advancing independence. Since then, the first celebration of the day was done in 1964 in the USA by President Lyndon B. Johnson. On this special day, the public will be made aware of the related laws concerning blind people. Therefore, this is also known as White Cane Awareness Day and as well as White Cane Safety Day.
The history of the White cane runs back to the time period between the two world wars. James Biggs of Bristol who is an artist is said to be the inventor of the White Cane. Subsequently, his sight was lost due to an accident, he had to adapt to this new and different environment. Since the area he lived in was one with high traffic jams, for the sake of protecting himself by being recognized by pedestrians and motorists, he thought of painting his walking stick. Then onwards, this started to spread throughout the world.
White Cane takes a special role in a blind person’s life when carrying out the day-to-day tasks, to sense and explore the surrounding environment independently. This assists them to be active participants in society just like sighted people.
“I think we are blind, blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see”