Claremore support group to walk Oct. 15 for White Cane Safety
The Claremore Support Group for People with Visual Impairments invites the public to walk with their members in downtown Claremore to promote White Cane Safety Awareness Day on Monday, Oct. 15.
Walkers and sighted friends will meet at 10:30 a.m. in the parking lot at the corner of Muskogee and Will Rogers Boulevard, across the street from the fire station.
The Will Rogers Lions Club will pay the fares for people who need a ride to the event on the Pelivan transportation system. Pelivan is operated by Grand Gateway Area Agency on Aging.
This year marks the third time that the support group has organized White Cane Safety Awareness Day, which was first established nationally by presidential proclamation in 1964.
The goal is to draw public attention to the meaning of white canes with red tips used by people with visual impairments and publicize related travel safety issues. Those who use dog guides will also participate.
Approximately 18,000 Oklahomans are legally blind and may be potential white cane or dog guide users, according to Sue Speer, the support group coordinator. In spite of advancing technology, she says the traditional white cane is still a vital tool enabling people who are blind to travel safely and independently.
Under Oklahoma law, only blind people may carry white canes, or white canes tipped with red, which are universally recognized as mobility aids for people with vision impairments.
Legal blindness occurs when vision is 20/200 or more in the better eye with the best possible correction, or the visual field is restricted to 20 degrees or less.
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.
The same law protects people who are deaf or hard of hearing using signal dogs identified by bright orange collars and those with physical disabilities using assistance dogs.
Visual Services, a division of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, sponsors monthly meetings of the Claremore Support Group for the Visually Impaired at 10 a.m. on the third Wednesday at the Claremore Community Center, 2301 N. Sioux.
To arrange a Pelivan ride to White Cane Safety Awareness Day or get more information, contact Sue Speer at (918) 342-5462. Contact Certified Vocational Rehabilitation Teacher Charley Tipps or Rehabilitation Technician Melissa Partee at (918) 551-4900 about assistance available for Oklahomans with visual impairments from DRS Visual Services.