If It Is Such A Great Tool, Why Don’t We See More Of Them?

Why celebrate a “White Cane” Day? It was originally hailed as a “staff of independence” when the day was first established by our Congress in 1964.

But if it is such a great tool, why don’t we see more of them?

If you think back to October 15, 2015, did you see a single white cane? I presented a seminar to a group of about 90 health care professionals the other morning and I asked them: did they know October 15 was “White Cane Day” and did they see one? No one knew of the celebration nor had a single white cane been spotted that day.

I have spoken with women who have lost a portion of, or all of their sight as adults, about their thoughts about the white cane and the fact they were not using them. At first, they looked towards me and shook their heads as though asking themselves “did she really ask me that question?”

Then I continued, “I have a theory about why I don’t see women with canes, but since I am sighted, I don’t know if my theory is correct….” The answer was not a surprise to me; why on earth do we want to wave a “red flag” and bring to people’s attention that we are vulnerable? As women, we often wonder if we are in safe environments or entering an area were the risk of assault or rape is increased.

Why are we silent about this? It is difficult enough for people to overcome vision loss. Why aren’t better tools and modern technology out there for this growing population of the visually impaired?

I think it is time for open and frank discussion. Will you join me?

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A Closer Look

• 7 of 10 people with severe vision loss are unemployed

• 80 percent of people with severe vision loss experience chronic depression

• Visually impaired veterans are 10 times more likely to commit suicide than any other type of disabled veteran

• Total cost of vision loss exceeded $50 billion in 2007

• Roughly 21.5 million adult Americans have trouble seeing

• One in three youths under 25 are currently obese and a large percentage will suffer from vision loss

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The goals of the Overcome Vision Loss Foundation include:

• Serving as advocates for those with vision loss from any reason

• Targeting causes of preventable or reversible vision loss

• Supporting research on quality of life to speed societal changes in public policy and legislation

• Serving as a primary source of information for all such research

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