Austin celebrated White Cane Day on October 16 with the annual march and outdoor festival hosted by Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Since moving the celebration from downtown Austin to the TSBVI campus a few years ago, there have been four marching routes near the school that attendees could join. This year, the Austin Lighthouse added a fifth route in downtown Austin.
The 12-block route from Austin City Hall to the Texas Capitol was organized by Angie Hall, Senior Training & Employment Services Manager, and a small committee of Lighthouse employees. “I wanted to add an additional march downtown to enhance awareness of White Cane Day,” Hall said. Approximately 70 people participated in the downtown march. Participants included Lighthouse employees, Texas Workforce Commission staff and TSBVI student groups from the Houston White Cane Day organization.
“I was pleased with the large turnout for our very first march,” said Hall. “I’m so thankful to all of our staff and Ride Right Volunteers that helped with the march and transition to the festival. I can’t wait until next year!”
The downtown marchers arrived at the outdoor festival just as the four other marches near campus concluded. The festival began with speakers from Texas Workforce Commission and the singing of the National Anthem. Attendees enjoyed lunch and treats from numerous food vendors, including H-E-B, along with other activities as a DJ played in the background. Several exhibitors set up booths across the sprawling lawn with various blind-related items to show, including the Austin Lighthouse with the popular Cane Exchange booth.
“I can’t wait to get a new cane,” one festival-goer was heard saying as he filed into the event.
Every White Cane Day, the Austin Lighthouse gives the public an opportunity to get a free cane or exchange an old one for a new one. The Lighthouse distributed over 50 canes to people from Austin, Killeen, Houston, Dallas, Corpus Christi and other cities. Hall and her team issued the canes and Lighthouse swag to the booth visitors. Hall’s favorite part of this day was the number of lives they touched by providing canes at the festival. “Amazing to be a part of this wonderful event,” said Hall.
The United States Congress designated October 15 of each year as White Cane Safety Day in 1964, recognizing white canes enable blind people to travel safely and independently. Today, White Cane Day is used to emphasize safety, independence and equality.
Photo of people with white canes in Austin on Oct. 16, 2019 (Spectrum News)