Contact: Angela Barlup, Public Relations Director|
Date: September 19, 2003
For Immediate Release
"White Cane Week" Proclaimed by Governor Rendell
Harrisburg -- What thoughts go through your mind when you see a blind or visually impaired person using a white cane? It may be while riding a bus, walking down a street or shopping in a department store. Blind and visually impaired persons must cope with the same situations in life as their sighted counterparts, continuing to gain their maximum in self-reliance and independence. Governor Edward G Rendell, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind(PAB), and its 31 member agencies including the Tri-County Association for the Blind, has proclaimed October 6 through the 10th as White Cane Week, calling attention to the significance of the white cane.
Many sighted individuals do not realize how terrifying traffic can be for a visually impaired person, so the White Cane becomes a signaling device for motorists, which means they need to be alert and use extreme caution to avoid endangering that person.
Common courtesy is also a basic rule of thumb. When attempting to assist a blind person, do not rush up to them and grab their arm. Simply ask, "May I help you?" Allow the blind person to lightly hold your arm just above the elbow, which places him/her in a position to follow and sense your slightest movement. Everyone should be aware of the significance of the white cane and extend every courtesy and consideration to the men and women who carry it. In this way, we respect the privacy of the visually impaired and contribute to enlarging their mobility and independence.
There is a law that protects the safety of all visually impaired individuals. The Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code states, when persons who are blind or visually impaired are crossing a public street carrying a white cane or being guided by a dog guide, drivers "shall take such precautions as may be necessary to avoid injuring or endangering them." The law also asserts that if injury or danger can be avoided by motorists bringing their vehicles to a full stop, they must do so. Violation of the White Cane Law is a legal offense and is punishable by fine or imprisonment.
For a free copy of the White Cane Law, contact the Tri-County Association for the Blind at (717) 238-2531. Tri-County Association for the Blind is a private non-profit organization, which provides services to blind and visually impaired individuals, as well as prevention of blindness programs in Dauphin, Cumberland and Perry Counties. The association offers the following services: Access Technology, Prevention of Blindness programs, Social Services, Harrisburg Area Radio Reading Service, a Production Facility and a Carpeting and Janitorial Department. For more information on the Tri-County Association for the Blind visit our web site at www.cartmann.com