White cane: a symbol of possibility in the lives of visually impaired people

Every year 15th October is observed as the White Cane Safety Day. The day stresses upon the idea of self-reliance in one’s life and recognizes the right to movement of a visually impaired person from one place to another.

Former President of United States of America, Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed “The white cane in our society has become one of the symbols of a blind person’s ability to come and go on his own. Its use promotes courtesy and special consideration to the blind on our streets and highways. It encourages us to make our people more fully aware of the meaning of the white cane and of the need for motorists to exercise special care for the blind persons who carry it.” Over the decades, the day has got global acceptance and is now celebrated worldwide as an occasion to mark the safe movement for persons with visual disabilities as well as to create awareness regarding the same.

Here are a few FAQs about the White Cane:

What is a white cane?

It is a long stick that is used by visually impaired persons to navigate their way.

Why is the white cane only white?

In 1930, George Bonham in Illinois USA saw a blind man trying to cross the street with the help of a stick. Since the stick was black, motorists failed to see him. It was then that Bonham came up with the idea of painting the stick white with a red stripe at the end to make it more visible on the road. The idea soon caught on in USA, and then globally.

How can a visually impaired person hold a white cane?

The standard method/technique for using a white cane was pioneered by Richard E. Hoover in 1944.  He was a World War II  rehabilitation specialist.  He suggested “White cane should be held in the center of the body  , and the object is detected by swinging it back and forth.

Do all the visually impaired persons use the white cane?

We do not have any statistical data with regard to the usage of white cane in  India. However, in US around 8% of the visually impaired people use the white cane.

How has India contributed in the evolution of the white canes?

IIT Delhi has developed a smart cane that helps in identifying the overhanging objects like tree branches, signboards, open glass windows etc. It helps a visually impaired person from bumping into a person. Hence, we can proudly say that India has paved a way for new innovations for ensuring the mobility of a visually impaired person.

For visually impaired persons, the white cane has ensured a walk full of independence, liberty, dignity and happiness.  We at Raindrops are proud of the White cane.

For further information, you can write to us at info@raindropsfoundation.org.


Resources & Further Reading:



Orientation October: History of the White Cane and White Cane Safety Day/White Cane Awareness Day



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *