White Cane week takes place from February 7-13th, this year. This week is to help bring awareness about what the white cane is used for and the abilities of the people behind the cane.
Despite ongoing education, I have found that there are still a large number of people who are not aware of what the white cane stands for; quite simply, it means that the person using it has some form of vision loss. It does not mean they are completely blind and see nothing as there is a very wide spectrum of vision loss. Many of the people that use a cane to navigate the world safely also use it to help the community know they have low vision.
The white cane allows people to navigate their world by alerting them to curbs, obstacles like fire hydrants or other things on the sidewalks. When using a cane, people who are blind or partially sighted are able to tell the differences in the ground under their feet. For example, whether there is asphalt or concrete, gravel or grass. The cane also gives an audio cue, as you are able to hear the echo off the buildings around you, or no echo may mean the lack of buildings in some cases.
It takes a lot of practice to learn to navigate independently with a cane but, it is essential in having the independence to go where you want.
There are many people who don’t like to use a cane because of what it stands for. They believe that people will treat them differently like they are incapable. However, knowing that the white cane is the symbol for blindness is one thing and treating people like they are incapable because of their disability is another thing. If more people know what the white cane stands for, then the more people will know that it does not mean that that person is incapable, or requires assistance to travel independently. People using a cane should be treated like everyone else.
If people reading this get one thing out of it, I hope that they take away that the white cane stands for independence, courage, persistence, capability, and equality.
Until Next Time !
Ashley and Rick