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‘Have To Be Aware’: White Cane, Dog Guide Awareness Day Is Friday

Debbie Liddell, CBA Vision Rehabilitation Services orientation and mobility specialist, assisting Roger Williams to navigate around Jamestown Community College. White Cane and Dog Guide Awareness day is Friday. Submitted photo

As part of October being National Blindness Awareness month, Chautauqua Blind Association Vision Rehabilitation Services will be recognizing White Cane and Dog Guide Awareness Day on Friday.

Joni Blackman, Vision Rehabilitation Services executive director, said the group assisting with vision rehabilitation, orientation and mobility for the visually impaired will be placing signs at key intersections around the area to draw attention to White Cane and Dog Guide Awareness Day.

“While we don’t see a lot of people using the white cane, there are a few,” she said. “Many of them live in the downtown area and move all around the few blocks of downtown. That is how they get anywhere,” she said. “In New York state, if you’re driving around and an individual is using a white cane you need to stop and allow them to cross. You always have to be aware. It’s the same thing with the dog guide. You have to stop and allow them to cross the road.”

Blackman said it’s been the law since 1956 in New York state that vehicles have to stop for the visually impaired using a white cane or guide dog.

“Thanks goes to Jamestown native and 35-year Lions Club member W. Ernest Tiffany,” she said. “He began his tireless work on behalf of the blind in 1939. He put in hundreds of long hours of his personal time and considerable expense to convince Gov. Averell Harriman to sign the White Cane bill. The law states every motorist must yield the right of way to a person approaching an intersection or crosswalk who has a guide dog or white cane regardless of what the traffic control indicates at the time.”

Blackman said White Cane Safety Awareness Day was adopted as a joint resolution in the United States Congress in 1964 at the urging of the National Federation of the Blind. It became official when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the proclamation hours after the resolution had passed. White Cane Safety Awareness Day has been remembered every year since and continues to promote awareness of independence and equality.

For more information on CBA Vision Rehabilitation Services, call 664-6660 or send an email to chautauquablind.org.

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