Gov. Eric Greitens has recently signed a proclamation declaring October 15 as White Cane Safety Day.

Gov. Eric Greitens has recently signed a proclamation declaring October 15 as White Cane Safety Day.

The proclamation serves as a means to promote greater public awareness of the usefulness of the white cane or dog guide as a tool allowing “every blind person to move freely and safely from place to place.” In addition, the proclamation is a way of reminding motorists of their responsibility to “exercise appropriate caution when approaching a person who is visually impaired and carrying a white cane.” The proclamation also calls on colleges and universities to provide blind people with full training, and on employers to utilize the talents and skills of blind people.

“Throughout history, blind people have used canes or similar objects to help them get around.  Though many might consider the white cane to be a simple stick, with the proper training the device is magical: detecting steps, poles, curbs and changes in the walking surface between the sidewalk and the street," said Shelia Wright, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri.

"The white cane is liberating, offering freedom of travel to people who once were limited to the mobility that family and friends had the time to give them. In 1964, a joint resolution by the U.S. Congress recognized the importance of the white cane by declaring October 15 as White Cane Safety Day. In his proclamation, Greitens identifies the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri as a partner assisting state agencies in the promotion of greater employment opportunities for blind people,” she said.

Since its founding in 1940, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has been a leading force in promoting independence for blind people. In the 1960s and 1970s, the National Federation of the Blind helped obtain passage, in all 50 states, of White Cane Safety Laws, which removed barriers to blind people living independently. More recently, the NFB tackled the issue of quiet cars by successfully helping to pass the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, signed into law on January 4, 2011. Also, earlier this year, the National Federation of the Blind established a monitoring program to ensure that dog guide users are not denied service by rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft.