By the President of the United States of America
For the more than six million Americans who suffer severe visual impairment, merely crossing the street may be a borrowing experience. This is especially true for the one-half million of our citizens who are legally blind and whose skill and resolve are tested daily in the traffic of our busy cities.
For such people, the white cane is an invaluable tool with which they can move about confidently and, most important, independently. Because the white cane is deceptively simple, many of us do not realize that special training and skill are required to use it effectively and safely. The cane is not a crutch but serves much as an extension of its user, providing assurance that the path ahead is clear and safe.
For the sighted, the white cane should serve as a reminder of the special needs of the visually handicapped person and of the importance of exercising simple courtesies which may otherwise be overlooked in haste. Observing the pedestrian's right-of-way in a crosswalk is a basic rule of traffic safety which has extra importance to the visually handicapped person who cannot see a vehicle's approach. For the sighted pedestrian, even a gesture as simple as offering to accompany a visually handicapped person across a busy intersection can make the difference between a safe crossing and a hazardous one.
To heighten public awareness of the importance of the white cane to the independence and safety of thousands of blind and visually handicapped Americans, the Congress, by a joint resolution approved October 6, 1964 (78 Stat. 1003; 36 U.S.C. 169d), has authorized the President to proclaim October 15 of each year as White Cane Safety Day.
Now, THEREFORE, I, JIMMY CARTER, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 15, 1978, as White Cane Safety Day.
On this occasion, let us all recognize the achievements of those who have overcome visual disability and blindness to lead independent, productive, and fulfilling lives. At the same time, let us all resolve to increase our awareness of the needs of visually handicapped people and observe those courtesies which enable them to move about safely and without needless constraint.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighth day of August, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred seventy-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America, the two hundred and third.
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 10:54 a.m., August 9, 1978]