White Cane Safety Day, 1971
By the President of the United States of America
In our highly mobile society where city streets are jammed with motor vehicles, a number of safeguards such as traffic lights, "Walk" signs, and hatched crosswalks have been introduced to promote pedestrian safety. In the world of the blind and visually handicapped this same purpose is served by a single small device, often weighing less than half a pound. It is the white cane.
For its owner the white cane is at once a sensor and a guide, and even as it denotes his physical limitation it speaks eloquently for his capability. Training programs instituted throughout the Nation in recent years have developed travel techniques for white cane users that instill self-confidence and a sense of independence. As a result, the white cane has become a symbol of achievement—the achievement of its owner in learning to cope with his environment and to move readily on his way.
But this new mobility cannot be fully realized without the cooperation of fellow pedestrians and the willingness of motorists to give way. An understanding of the potential dangers which city streets hold for blind citizens is commendable, but adequate protection for them can be provided only by strict observance of safety measures.
Our recognition of the white cane and its significance must be immediate; and our reaction equally as rapid. It takes only a second for a motorist to accept second place, but that instant's inhibition may save a life. There is no better time to be our brother's keeper.
To make our people more fully aware of the significance of the white cane, and of the need for motorists to exercise caution and courtesy when approaching persons carrying a white cane, the Congress, by joint resolution, approved October 6, 1964 (78 Stat. 1003), has authorized the President to proclaim October 15 of each year as White Cane Safety Day.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RICHARD NIXON, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 15, 1971 as White Cane Safety Day.
I call upon all our citizens to join individually in this observance, that blind persons in our society may continue to enjoy the greatest possible measure of personal independence.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of July in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred seventy-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and ninety-fifth.