White Cane Day: Center for the Visually Impaired Celebrates Helping Clients Gain Independence
By Angie Clawson, Director of Communications, Center for the Visually Impaired
For nearly 60 years, the Center for the Visually Impaired (CVI) has been providing rehabilitation services for people who are blind and visually impaired in metro Atlanta and Georgia. It’s no coincidence that our Atlanta-based nonprofit is headquartered in Midtown. With its street grid layout, convenient access to public transportation, and audible pedestrian crosswalks, Midtown provides an ideal training landscape to help those with visual impairment learn to safely navigate city streets.
Each year, more than 1,000 people of all ages from Atlanta and throughout the state turn to CVI to help them adjust to – or improve – a life with limited or no sight. Our comprehensive services include orientation and mobility training, low vision evaluation to help clients make the best use of the vision they have, training to help clients with various activities of daily living such as cooking and medication management, technology training in using adaptive software and devices, support groups for clients to connect and share coping strategies, programs designed specifically for youth, and much more.
We empower our clients to live independently, including navigating their environment safely and with confidence. On any given day, you may find one of our instructors providing one-on-one orientation and mobility training to help clients move comfortably around the city. Training includes helping people access MARTA and to use features that are specifically designed for people who are visually impaired such as detectable warning surface tiles that provide physical navigation cues and raised text and Braille on signage. An important part of the training also includes teaching cane techniques to detect curbs, uneven surfaces, sidewalks and more.
For someone living with a visual impairment, learning to use a cane effectively and comfortably is a key step toward greater independence. This is so significant that in 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed October 15 as White Cane Safety Day, which emphasized the importance of the use of the white cane as both a tool and as a visible symbol by those who are blind and visually impaired. Over the years, White Cane Day has become a meaningful way to promote awareness and recognize all that can be accomplished by people who are blind or visually impaired when the appropriate resources and opportunities are available to them.
Check out this video CVI filmed with Midtown Alliance for White Cane Awareness Day in 2019 here.
We also advocate for more accessible communities that include ADA compliant infrastructure and design elements that enable those with visual impairments to travel safely throughout their communities. For example, uneven sidewalks or construction that blocks or reroutes walking paths to ones that aren’t ADA compliant can pose significant challenges to someone living with a visual impairment. We encourage communities to identify opportunities for improved accessibility before development and construction begin.
Every person with vision loss deserves to live with independence and dignity, and CVI is committed to providing the support and resources that help individuals achieve this. For more information about our services, or how you can help support those who are visually impaired, visit www.cviga.org.