Tuesday 15th October was International White Cane Day – a day to recognise and celebrate the importance of the white cane for people who are blind or vision impaired.
Although I have my beautiful Guide Dog I still use my long cane on a daily basis. I need it to take Wiley for recreational and tolieting walks, to get to yoga or whenever Wiley may not be fit for work.
Because my long white cane is still a very important mobility aid for me I was delighted to participate in Guide Dogs NSW/ACT International White Cane Day activities here in Canberra.
This year Guide Dogs NSW/ACT celebrated International White Cane Day by launching a new Road safety campaign called ‘Watch Out, Cane About’.
There are some very worrying statistics out of a survey of blind and vision impaired pedestrians that indicated 58% had expereinced a near miss crossing a road in the last five years (I am part of that 58%.) and 1 in 15 had actually been struck by a vehicle.
For more information on the Watch Out Road Safety Campaign including links to a couple of great videos please click here.
To promote the campaign here in Canberra Guide Dogs NSW/ACT arranged a media event demonstrating the do’s and don’ts for motorists at road crossings. I was delighted to be asked to attend the event and give a short speech as well as participate in the demonstration.
As it was White Cane Day I decided to give Wiley the morning off and attend only using my cane.
Before I got to the event I had to do a quick radio interview in the ABC studio. This was my second in studio interview and I have to say it was just as nerve wracking as the first one. The host Genevieve Jacobs was lovely and made me feel very welcome and the ten minute interview simply flew by.
It was then a quick trip to the Lyneham shops where the demonstrations were being held.
In addition to the lovely ACT Guide Dogs staff (Karyn, Chace, Judy and Cody), Guide Dogs CEO Dr Graeme White and Marketing and Communications Manager Charles Ulm also attended.
We were very fortunate to get lots of support for the campaign. Some of the official guest included:
- Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, Federal Minister for Ageing and Disabilities
- Yvette Berry MLA, (on behalf of ACT Disability Minister Joy Burch),
- Andrew Wall MLA, Shadow Disability Minister
- Nicole Lawder MLA, Disability advocate
- Sergeant Mark Steel, Traffic Operations Officer in Charge – ACT police
- Nicole Millwood, Media Liaison Officer – ACT Police
- Alan Evans, Director NRMA
The proceedings started with a couple of speeches, followed by a demonstration of what drivers should and shouldn’t do at crossings. Then a couple of the guests tried crossing the road under blindfold. The event finished with a couple more speeches and media and photo opportunities.
We were lucky to get some good media coverage including a segment on the WIN local news and an article in the Canberra Times. Anything that helps to spread the word about the campaign is incredibly valuable.
I had a great time at the event (and a delicious hot chocolate with all the guide Dog staff afterwards at Tilly’s) but I was very happy to get back home to Wiley. I felt very exposed being out and about without him. I kept putting my hand down to give him a pat but he wasn’t there.
Wiley was over the moon to see me, doing back flips and making funny little noises that I haven’t heard him make before. It was the longest time we had spent apart – a little over 3 hours and I think he missed me as much as I missed him. That makes my heart smile 🙂