Guess where I was today?
I attended the International White Cane Day 2014 walk in Melbourne. Guide Dogs said:
The white cane is internationally recognised as a symbol of vision impairment. Whether you use an Identification Cane, Long Cane, Support Cane or Guide Dog please join us on a White Cane Walk to help educate the public on white cane awareness.
The Guide Dogs Victoria group started under the clock at Flinders Station, walked up Swanston St, cut around then through China Town (Little Bourke St) and back down Swanston St to Federation Square. Vision Australia attendees walked a different route, presumably so the streets didn’t get too cluttered with canes and dogs.
Vision Australia said:
Did you know there are three types of canes?
Identification cane – this white cane is designed to indicate a person has low vision.
This cane does not detect all obstacles but can assist with the height of steps, gutters and down drops. [If you know when to use it. And if an escalator doesn’t eat it. — Editor’s note]
Support cane – this cane can aid balance and is used as a means of physical support. This cane does not detect obstacles but can assist with identifying that a person has low vision.
Long cane – a long mobility cane enables a person who is blind or has low vision to detect all obstacles and hazards within their path of travel. All white canes are an international symbol of vision impairment.
Below are my photos of the gathering point. As you can see, dog and cane users are all ages, shapes and sizes. There was at least one girl in school uniform; I think she might have been in primary school. Some attendees were Guide Dogs staff and volunteers; others were friends, family and carers of blind and visually impaired people.
There were group photos taken on the steps but I was in those photos instead of being behind a camera. If those photos go publicly online, I’ll link them later.
Afterwards attendees broke into groups to enjoy lunch together. It was too cold for me to sit outside at Fed Square so I retreated to a warmer locale where a waitress commented that she’d seen us on our walk. Mission accomplished, at least in part.
Did you know that blind and vision impaired people can be geeks too? Look for canes, dogs and human guides at Armageddon this weekend!