Once a year, since 1964, October 15th has been set aside to celebrate the achievements of the blind and visually impaired. Additionally, this day is used to commemorate the white guidance cane, a tool that brings independence to many visually impaired persons all over the world.
The white guidance cane has become a symbol of independence, allowing persons with visual impairments to safely navigate the world around them, and come and go as they please. The use of a white guidance cane allows blind and visually impaired persons to probe for and locate obstacles along their path and learn the surrounding environment more quickly and thoroughly.
The guidance cane was painted white with a red stripe to make it more noticeable to motorists and other pedestrians. When used to cross a vehicular roadway, the white cane signals to drivers the user is visually impaired, and signals right of way.
How Does a Guidance Cane Guide the Visually Impaired?
The white guidance cane can play a variety of roles in aiding blind or visually impaired persons in navigating daily life and public spaces.
As an extension of the arm, the guidance cane is swept from side to side to probe for and locate any obstacles along the pathway, allowing the user enough time to adjust their path and continue safely. Additionally, the tip of the guidance cane can detect changes in surfaces, such as from sidewalk to ADA tile, alerting the user of upcoming potential hazards or changes in the walkway.
A guidance cane detects drop offs, such as curbs or transit platforms, allowing persons with visual impairments to safely travel through all areas of public life.
Using ADA Tiles to Navigate Public Spaces
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a law that ensures persons with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
A large portion of this law is ensuring all persons have equal access to public spaces. Detectable warning pavers are a vital aspect of the ADA and ensure persons with visual impairments can independently navigate public spaces safely. When tapped with a guidance cane, truncated dome tiles make an audible sound that is different than the surrounding substrate, alerting persons with visual impairments of the upcoming change in the pathway.
Detectable warning pavers are used to alert the visually impaired of changes along the direction of travel, the entrance into vehicular roadways, to mark the top and bottom of stairways and much more.
Even without the use of a guidance cane, ADA tiles alert persons with visual impairments of upcoming potential hazards, as they are comfortably felt underfoot and are installed in order to provide enough warning to allow pedestrians to assess their surroundings and proceed with caution.
Something we may take for granted every day is the ability to navigate public spaces quickly and confidently. The use of a white guidance cane and ADA tiles, however, give the same confidence to those with visual impairments, allowing the safe navigation of all spaces open to the public.
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