White Cane Safety Day2022-03-24T11:19:14-07:00

White canes were introduced in the 1930s as a way of assisting visually impaired pedestrians to travel independently. They also helped motorists identify and yield to people using the white cane, and their use has been protected by law in the United States since that time. White Cane Safety Day, October 15, was established in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson in an effort to raise awareness of people who carry a white cane.

A woman with a white cane walks down the street with Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Tamar Tashjian, from Braille Institute

What is the White Cane Law?

“A totally or partially blind pedestrian who is carrying a predominately white cane (with or without a red tip), or using a guide dog, shall have the right-of-way. The driver of any vehicle approaching this pedestrian, who fails to yield the right-of-way, or to take all responsibility necessary precautions to avoid injury to this blind pedestrian, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine of not less than five hundred dollars ($500) no more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both. This section shall not preclude prosecution under any other applicable provision of law.” – Vehicle Code #21963

Safety Tips For People Who Are Sighted

  • Stop your car at least 5ft. from a crosswalk. Pedestrians who are visually impaired or blind may use the sound of your engine to locate crosswalk boundaries. If any part of your car is in the crosswalk, they may misjudge the safe area.
  • Avoid honking at individuals using a white cane. People who are blind or visually impaired have no idea why you are honking.
  • It is okay to ask if assistance is needed. Ask the person who is blind or visually impaired for permission before trying to assist. If the person asks you to help guide them, offer your arm. They will hold your arm just above the elbow to follow your path.
A man with a white cane holds a woman's arm as they walk across the street
Braille Institute Orientation and Mobility Specialist Keema McClung walks with a woman with a white cane

Learn More About Orientation And Mobility

Losing your vision can be disorienting, especially when you’re used to getting around in your community on your own. We’re here to tell you vision loss doesn’t have to change that. Our trained Orientation & Mobility specialists are here to keep you moving. Find out more.

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