People who are blind or visually impaired use a white cane to scan their surroundings for obstacles or orientation marks, like curbs, steps, and uneven surfaces. It is also helpful for onlookers in identifying the user as blind or visually impaired.
At Guide Dogs of America, we believe in education and advocacy. Here are some useful do’s and don’ts when encountering someone using a white cane or a guide dog!
• A totally or partially blind pedestrian wielding a white cane, or using a guide dog, always has the right-of-way.
• Give people who are blind or visually impaired space when you are driving. Guide Dog and white cane handlers use the sound of your car to orient themselves.
• If you are in a car, please don’t honk the horn or yell at a working guide dog team or someone using a cane; it is disorienting.
• If you believe someone is in a dangerous situation, do voice your concern in a calm manner. Do not push, pull, or grab the person.
Additional info! It is a common misconception that when one of our clients receives a guide dog, they put their cane away forever. This is false, we encourage the continued use of canes throughout our guide dog team’s working life. There are plenty of situations where a cane is a handy tool.