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White Cane Day 2013

The White Cane is the universal symbol of access to the world for blind and partially sighted people. When blind or low vision individuals travel through their environment with a white cane and are trained in its proper use, they can be fully mobile in society. White canes have been used by blind people around the world since the 1930s. 
With a white cane even very young children can learn to safely make their way walking through a park with family, as the little girl does in the video link here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIGN44XJ7bY 
 
The ability to travel safely and independently is a critical issue to everyone in our society. We all want to get to our destinations in the safest and quickest way possible. This is no different for persons who are blind or partially sighted.  Although new technologies are emerging to assist people navigate their surroundings, these will not replace the white cane as a reliable method to be mobile, as these new gadgets rely on electrical systems that may fail. Many of these global positioning systems linked to speech-enabled smart phones have huge costs associated with them that make them unaffordable for millions of blind people. That is why the white cane remains the essential mobility tool for most blind and partially sighted people. 
 
It would be hard to estimate how many of the 39 million blind and the 285 million blind and partially sighted people of the world use or have access to white canes. Our member organizations  are doing all they can to make white canes available in all developing countries along with rehabilitation and training in the proper use of the white cane in order to make the world more accessible. 
 
Making the world a safer place for those who use white canes requires the cooperation of local governments to ensure legislation is enacted to protect white cane users in traffic. City streets need pedestrian sidewalks so blind people are not forced to share the space with bicycles, automobiles and other vehicles. This is a part of the universal design guiding principles set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
 
As we celebrate White Cane Day this October 15th the World Blind Union calls upon governments, to establish and implement standards for communities that will ensure universal access for all persons with disabilities. City planners and manufacturers can consult with the World Blind Union, and our member organizations to discuss possible implications of proposed design change so that accessibility issues  may be identified and can be dealt with in the early stages. In this way, our environments can enable safe an independent travel for everyone including those who are blind.                                             
 
For further information contact:
 
Marianne McQuillan,