White Cane Awareness Month calls attention to safety issues for the blind

State law requires drivers stop for pedestrians using white canes or guide dogs

A ceremony to mark White Cane Day was held in the Great Hall at the Massachusetts State House on Monday, October 17, 2016

BOSTON (WWLP) – October is White Cane Awareness Month, dedicated to helping the blind travel more independently and safely.

On Monday, representatives from the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind held a White Cane Safety Day event at the State House’s Great Hall.

The commission is educating motorists and the sighted community about the state’s White Cane Law, designed to help the totally or partially blind navigate more safely. If a pedestrian has a white cane extended into the street, it usually indicates that he or she will begin crossing the street. If you see a person using a white cane or guide dog at a crosswalk, you have to come to a complete stop — regardless of the traffic signal.

The Commission for the Blind’s Communications Director Wayne Levy told 22News that assistive technology is making it easier for the blind to get around.

“It has become a lot easier for them to navigate around the streets and to and from home, as well as work, but that only applies if motorists obey the law,” Levy said.

Levy added that drivers have more distractions behind the wheel, which makes sharing the road with the blind more dangerous.