White Cane Safety Day brings awareness to use of the tall canes among visually impaired community

SPEARFISH, S.D. — Since 1964, the United States has observed October 15 as White Cane Safety Day. On Tuesday, Governor Kristi Noem made an official proclamation on October 12 recognizing the day in the State of South Dakota.

Grandpas White Cane CoverThe day serves as a platform for honoring the independence of visually impaired, along with making known the importance of white canes being mindful of people using them.

Canes are used as a means of exploring one’s surroundings. Users move their cane in front of them listening for different sounds and feeling for differences in the ground they are walking on to navigate.

By doing so, people are able to function and travel more independently than without the device.

Jim Hoxie is a resident of Spearfish, who has been legally blind for around a decade. He can see a little, but has been losing his sight from glaucoma.

He learned how to use a cane from the Edward Hines Blind Rehabilitation Center, along with other things like cooking and living skills.

“I can go down Main Street on the sidewalk and cross intersections by myself,” he explained. “Which I could not do before my training.”

He also explained the differences in certain types of canes. How, even though people recognize white canes with red ends and a device used by blind citizens, they have a more informative meaning.

“Mine again has a black handle, called a tall white cane. It has a red section about a foot long on the bottom. And that let’s you know that I am legally blind,” he stated. “I have a little bit of vision. People that are totally blind, have virtually almost none. They may see light. They will have a white cane.”

Hoxie even wrote a book, “Grandpa’s White Cane,” explaining his story of becoming visually impaired and experience navigating the world with his tall white cane. The book was released last fall and is currently available online.

An important reminder on this day: motorists are required to stop for anyone using a white cane or walking with a guide dog so the individual can safely cross the street.

Categories: Local News, National News, South Dakota News