Upcoming event to bring awareness to white cane safety

OKLAHOMA CITY – Community members with visual disabilities will stroll through downtown Oklahoma City in support of National White Cane Safety Awareness Day.

Visual Services will host the event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 15 near the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library, 300 Park Ave., and members of the public are invited to participate, according to an Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) news release.

White Cane Day walkers will give out cards that summarize the law requiring drivers to stop for white cane users, according to the news release.

“Our goal of celebrating White Cane Safety Awareness Day with a public walk is to not only celebrate, but also to educate about blindness and low vision,” Visual Services Administrator Tracy Brigham said. “Many people in the community haven’t seen individuals navigate with white canes and aren’t aware of the law in place to provide safety to those using a cane.”

Approximately 138,700 Oklahomans report having vision difficulties and are potential white cane or dog guide users, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey estimates.

“As the state agency serving Oklahomans who are blind, we know there is strong connection between effective cane use, travel safety and reaching personal goals for employment and independence,” DRS Executive Director Melinda Fruendt said.

White Cane Safety Day was established in 1964 by presidential proclamation. The first white cane laws were created around that time. Similar laws currently exist across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Visual Services, which is part of DRS, provides employment and living services. Its name will be changed to the Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired on Nov. 1.

“We want to bring awareness as often as possible,” Brigham said. “The public is welcome to join us on the walk, or to come and get information.”

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