What Does the White Cane Represent?
The white cane has become a symbol of freedom, independence, and confidence. The use of such a cane enables a blind person to move about freely in his/her environment. If an individual knows how to use a cane, he/she can accomplish his/her daily tasks with ease. Also the white cane is a symbol of blindness and independence. The blind individual that walks with assurance with his/her white cane is comfortable with blindness.
International White Cane Day takes place each October 15th and the day is observed worldwide to recognize the movement of blind people from dependency to full participation in society.
A Brief History
Blind people have been using canes to travel independently for thousands of years. Over the years, blind people have had different reasons for using canes. Some used them to ward off dogs, while others used a cane to warn people that they were coming down the street. The modern white cane, as we know it, did not come in to existence until World War I. There is much debate surrounding which country developed the white cane first. Nevertheless, use of a white-painted stick became quite common in Europe and then moved to North America.
It was not until World War II that adequate canes were made and a system of training blinded veterans to use them was developed. Along with the development of useful canes and proper techniques came laws to allow blind people equal access to public thoroughfares and buildings. To learn more about the history of the white cane and its importance for low vision people all over the world, see Professor Ron McCallum's piece for International White Cane Day 2015: