White cane users to celebrate White Cane Safety Awareness Day Oct 14 in downtown OKC
OKLAHOMA CITY — White cane users with visual disabilities and sighted supporters will celebrate National White Cane Safety Awareness Day from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. on October 14 with a stroll through the heart of downtown Oklahoma City.
Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the event host, invites participants to gather in front of the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library located at 300 Park Avenue.
The division, which provides employment and independent living services, is part of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services
SBVI normally schedules the White Cane Safety Awareness Day on October 15. Organizers rescheduled this year to create more exposure because the 15th falls on Saturday when fewer workers will be downtown.
“White Cane Safety Awareness Day is important,” said Hannah Dangle, from Edmond, who plans to attend. “We can educate and do a little outreach so that people are aware that we can do anything anyone else do -- with the help of our white canes,” she added.
Dangle, age 22, married three weeks ago. She is a part-time assistive technology trainer at SBVI who is studying rehabilitation counseling at East Central University in Ada
SBVI staff chose the library location because it is near a streetcar stop next to the library on Hudson Avenue. Embark buses 009, 012, 013, 13N and 016 also drop off and pick up passengers on the west side of Hudson Avenue at Robert S Kerr Avenue.
After reading the proclamations from Oklahoma City Mayor David Hot and Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, participants using white canes and dog guides will circle the courthouse and city hall.
White Cane Day walkers will hand out cards with a summary of the Oklahoma law requiring drivers to stop for white cane users and a thank you to drivers stopping during the celebration.
Embark will donate free streetcar passes for those who wish ride to lunch in Bricktown or Automobile Alley at their own expense after the event.
Oklahoma law requires drivers to completely stop their vehicles 15 feet away from pedestrians who are visually impaired and identified by their use of white canes with red tips or dog guides. People who violate this law are guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to three months or $100 fine or both.
Oklahoma law also stipulates that only blind people may carry white canes with or without red tips, which are internationally recognized as mobility aids for people with vision impairments.
“Approximately 3.3 percent of the population or 128,900 Oklahomans, all ages, report vision difficulties and may be potential white cane or dog guide users, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey estimates,” SBVI Administrator Tracy Brigham said. “As the state agency serving Oklahomans who are blind, we know there is strong connection between effective cane use, travel safety and reaching personal goals for employment and independence.”
In 2021, DRS’ SBVI provided career counseling, employment, technology, and training and job placement services for 1,300 Oklahomans and helped 113 find employment. Those who became employed earn an annual average of $28,304 and pay $4,246 in annual taxes.
Contact Liz Scheffe, 405-246-5615 or firstname.lastname@example.org, with questions about SBVI’s White Cane Safety Awareness Day.
For information about programs offered by SBVI, phone 800-487-4042 to reach the nearest office or visit https://oklahoma.gov/okdrs/job-seekers/sbvi.html.
For more information
Jody Harlan, DRS Communications Director