Follow the White Cane

Is there a special way to recognize accomplishment and service regarding people with vision loss? Indeed, October 15 is the occasion for proclaiming “White Cane Safety Day”, dating as far back as LBJ in 1964. There’s so much to learn about the symbolic, fall-preventing, affordable white stick that also warns motorists THE CANE HOLDER has the right of way.

Catch the Vision suggest reading up on the issues,INCLUDING when to adopt the white cane, WHERE TO learn orientation and mobility, HOW TO express special vision needs, AND MOVE ON WITH OUR LIVES. More broadly, the cane and the occasion encourage civic and governmental organizations to update their policies and physical environments.

Please post notices of White Cane day events in the comment section below. See you out and about on October 15!

white cane basics

  1. “Considering a White Cane” from Hadley.edu
  2. “Essential skills for living with low vision” from VisionAware.org
  3. Ten Fascinating Facts from Perkins.org

proclamation AND symbolism

  1. Proclamation for White Cane Awareness Day from NFB.org
  2. “White Cane Appreciation Day” from Hadley.edu
  3. White cane laws for states from acb.org
  4. “Raise Your Cane” appreciation at Minnesota Capitol from Blind Abilities podcast

And More

  1. “Orientation and Mobility” overview from Wikipedia
  2. White canes and albinism from LegallyBlondeBlind.com
  3. Venerable self-help advice from Support founder Dan Roberts

A White Cane At Work

Suppose someone dropped off a blue carton of bird seed in this woman’s driveway. Envision scenarios like these:

  • On her way to the trash can, she doesn’t expect any obstacles SO SEES THEN walks around or trips over … the blue package.
  • Leaving a car, with her cane unfolded in action, she senses the package and stops.
  • Her off-duty guide DOG CALLS ATTENTION BY SNIFFING THE PACKAGE. The dog on duty leads her around the package, or may block her path AND WAIT to BE TOLD where to walk.
  • Note that she sweeps the cane and senses an obstacle.

Now consider alternatives to the Bright birdseed delivery visible to people with many vision conditions. Picture walking into a sandwich board sign on a downtown street, a saw horse signifying a repair, an accidentally dropped package, a child, an outdoor dining table, a setting bench, … A person sweeping a cane has a safer way of walking than a person depending on defective eyesight. A guide dog provides avoidance and notification to an aware dog handler. Every object in a public area, a private hallway, or a shopping mall is a potential for a preventable fall. Further benefits include notices to drivers and bystanders plus increased awareness of special vision needs.

Photo by Susan J. Hout of author Susan L. Gerhart


AZ Tech Access Program Conference Report

What was AZ TAP 2022?

This trip report identifies useful state-wide activities by professionals working in Vocational Rehabilitation and their benefits to citizens with disabilities. As a low vision attendee, I appreciated the $50 virtual admission that offered 11 zoom sessions from three dozen general and break-out presentations.

The conference was well-organized and on target. The learning practices suggested a better controlled working environment for me as a heavy-duty technology user. I now understand how accommodation and rehabilitation organizations operate and could improve life for people limning in the wider Prescott area. I will follow up the on-site technology list for new products and services.

Technical Topics(1) neuro-diversity broadening participation in science and technology; (2)working memory and executive function techniques for efficient web work; (3)writing in simpler language everywhere; (4) making documents, especially PDF, meet accessibility standards. Every organization serving people with disabilities needs expertise in these areas for better practices.

Other talks addressed how disability and vocation rehabilitation services operate, notably the employer-worker accommodation process. A key resource is the Arizona Disability Law Center for answering questions and assisting accommodation communications.

Cultural Topics

An introductory talk honoring Juneeteenth reprised the Buffalo soldiers service. Differences in tribal vocational rehabilitation practices were represented by two dozen specialists. Issues include: (1) many indigenous languages do not have a word for “disability” and (2) practices are broader than federal and state operations.

A wrap up by author Emily Ladow delved into basics of living with disabilities from her book “Demystifying Disability”. She identified a “curb cut principle for Covit” where lessons apply to the pandemic based on disability experience and concepts. Plus, she introduced the practice of speaker self-description for vision limited attendees.

Links To Organizations


Tips For Living With Low Vision for YC OLLI

Tips For Living With Low Vision

Yavapai College OLLI, Workshop R, February 22 2021


  • Susan- computing, education, Accessibility slger123@gmail.com.
  • Donna – Rancher, investor, pastor DBenny39@gmail.com.
  • “Catch the Vision” — “Low Vision Techies At Your Service”.
  • Our helpers – Donna’s Havana (black lab) and Susan’s Corky (white retriever).

We prefer “Low Vision” term versus “macular degeneration”, “visually impaired”, “legally blind”, “visually disabled”, etc.

Caveat: Our tips are social, educational, not so medical and mostly not covered by Medicare.

Simple Every Day Gadgets

  • Mark things with tactile adhesive “dots” from hardware and office stores.
  • Keep files organized with Pen Friend “talking labels”.
  • Orient yourself through multi-colored, motion sensitive wall lights.
  • Apply your contrast sense (e.g. yellow?) for surfaces and things.

Communication and more

iPhone = Apple VoiceOver and gestures, plus magnification

  • Demo: Susan calls Donna.
  • Demo: Donna texts Susan.
  • Demo: “siri, tell me the weather!”.

Learning Resources

  • “Learn macular degeneration”audio explanation from Hadley Institute website
  • Follow weekly podcasts like “Eyes On Success” interviews on people and technology.
  • Join free Digital Talking Book program (call Public Library).
  • Attend local West Yavapai Guidance Clinic, Catch the Vision, People Who Care meetings.

Go beyond magnification into voice

  • Moving window reading and typing commands and text (Windows ZoomText).
  • Total screen reading by keyboard (Windows NVDA).
  • Gestures, reading from screen (Apple).

Note: You adapt to “synthetic speech” and choose voices

Getting around safely

  • Visit a “low vision” specialist. doctor
  • Mark home hazards with contrast.
  • Use yurt feet to feel stairs, curbs, rugs, …
  • Extend arms in front to bend or open doors or use warning buzzer.
  • Get state rehab training for Orientation and Mobility, “white cane”.

Gradually build your life stile

  • Let others help you, but don’t become too dependant.
  • “low vision” is NOT “no vision” — see what you can and use all your senses.
  • Change “Every*body’s home town” — explain, teach, complain.
  • Enjoy well designed Yavapai College campus.

Links to above

Bon Voyage!!!


Resources, Conferences, updates

some resources from the conference interview circuit, including two Apple apps with podcasts. More to come…


Coming Course: Living With Low Vision

  • What:Confident Living with Low Vision Course
  • When:Spring 2019 March 7,14,21,28,April 4
    Thursdays 1:00 to 3:15 p.m.
  • Where:Prescott United Methodist Church Campus
    505 West Gurley Street
    Douglas Meeting Room across from the People Who Care office.
  • Registration: is a must! Call 928-445-2480.
    A family member or friend is welcome to participate in the course.
    Course is limited to 30 participants.
  • Topics

    • Understanding Medical Conditions of the Eye,
    • Research & Treatment, Vitamins Make a Difference
    • Orientation & Mobility, Guide Dogs
    • Getting Organized, Safety Steps,
    • Reading and Writing & Lighting Tips, ‘Your Home is Your Castle’
    • Community Resources
    • Dealing with Life’s Changes
    • Audio and other Useful Technologies

Members of Catch the Vision will tell our assistive technology stories and illustrate, for example: Basic Apple VoiceOver use; iPhone and iPad reading and recognition apps; Pen Friend note taker; computer screen readers; and entertainment products.

Highly Recommended!!!