Before 1930, if a visually impaired or blind person crossed a street and was hit, it would be deemed their fault. When the Peoria City Council passed the nation's first “white cane safety law” in 1930, it gave blind and visually impaired citizens the right-of-way and other protections when it came to moving about in public. The white cane is a crucial symbol of independence that Envision celebrates annually.
For the past three years, Envision has celebrated White Cane Day with a community walk in Wichita, KS. Envision Dallas has celebrated White Cane Day since 2010, honoring it this year with a community celebration. Both events had the intent to not only spread awareness about the importance of the white cane, but to bring employees, program participants, clients of services, donors, family members and friends together to share their stories.
The annual walk in Wichita, KS brought over 100 people from the community of all ages, many of whom have visual impairments and have been past clients or program participants of Envision. Participants joined Envision in a walk around the iconic Keeper of the Plains, finishing at Exploration Place where there were hot dogs for lunch and a table to buy t-shirts and/or donate to Envision.
“We had a phenomenal turnout for our annual White Cane Day event on Saturday, Oct. 14th. We had participants, families, teachers and community members from all across the region join us to celebrate and show support for white cane users! This event demonstrates that a diverse community is a strong community,” said Hannah Christenson, Director of Community Programs at Envision.
At the Envision Dallas celebration, informational booths were present with organizations such as Computers for the Blind, All Eyes social support group for the blind, Living Beyond Limits, and Texas Workforce Vocational
Rehab Services. Attendees got to experience the tactile art of Tomas Bustos, a Dallas-based sculptor who teaches sculpting classes once a month at Envision Dallas. The Nasher Sculpture Center and the Dallas Museum of Art also provided art activities for everyone, and the Roots Food Foundation and Richardson Evening Lions club partnered with Envision Dallas to provide lunch.
“In the unity of our celebration and the strength of our shared purpose, the white cane becomes not just a symbol of independence, but a beacon of community resilience, guiding us forward with each step towards a more inclusive and empowered future. Envision Dallas was honored to host a White Cane Day celebration and share it with so many community partners that continue to support and serve individuals who are blind or visually impaired,” said Jennifer Svelan, Manager of Rehabilitation and Support Programs at Envision Dallas.
White Cane Day is a national holiday that has been and will continue to be an important holiday that Envision and Envision Dallas honors and celebrates with pride.