Katherine Madison

A few weeks ago, I went to several schools to talk about the white cane. I discussed the history and uses of the cane. Uses may include protection from obstacles and finding land marks to help you find your way around an area. I am glad I did this because I want people to know and understand reasons for a blind person to have a white cane. Sighted people need to know the correct way to help a blind person.

The public needs to understand that the white cane is a symbol of blindness.

I am thankful for the opportunity to educate the public on this topic. I wanted to spread the word about the white cane.

My personal experiences at the presentation were great. I was chosen to do the presentation because I have been totally blind all my life and I know what it’s like for a blind person to use a white cane. I know how sighted people interact with the blind and I know how blind people should be treated. I am always willing to share my life experiences with the public. It is best to educate the public from a blind person’s perspective because they have already had those experiences.

The preceding essay was written by 20 year-old Katherine Madison, a young college-bound woman hailing from Oklahoma. Katie is a student in the Independent Living Program at The Carroll Center for the Blind. She joined in a panel discussion at Mt. Alvernia High School and Newton Country Day School, in commemoration of White Cane Day.

White Cane Day takes place annually on October 15, by decree of President Lyndon Johnson. The president’s proclamation was the culmination of forty years of progress from the introduction of the white cane after World War I. On October 6, 1964, a joint resolution of the Congress, HR 753, was signed into law authorizing the President of the United States to proclaim October 15th each year’s “White Cane Safety Day”.

In order to spread public awareness, annually, the Orientation and Mobility department at The Carroll Center informs the community of this special day. The mobility trainers create venues in which former and present students are able to join in representation of the blind community. These presentations include panel discussions and lectures, as well as tables located at the DMV, providing people in the community with pamphlets and verbal information regarding people who are blind.

By reaching out in this way, the goal of The Carroll Center is to heighten the awareness of the seeing community, thereby creating more sensitivity and a broader understanding of the non-seeing world.

This past year was very successful, made evident by the response from the people with whom we shared our information. We hope to continue this important commemoration for many years to come.