FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
National Federation of the Blind Launches Largest-ever White Cane Initiative
Free White Canes to be Provided Nationwide
Baltimore, Maryland (August 19, 2008): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation’s oldest and largest organization of blind people, today announced an initiative to ensure that any blind person in the United States and Puerto Rico who needs a long white cane will have one, regardless of ability to pay. The NFB will provide a free cane to anyone in the fifty states, the District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico who is blind or has low vision and who uses or desires to use a white cane in order to travel independently. This historic initiative is the largest effort ever of its kind to provide white canes to individuals who are blind or have low vision.
“The white cane is both a symbol of and a tool for independence,” said Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “It allows blind individuals to travel whenever and wherever they want, leading to self-confidence and self-sufficiency. With the initiation of this landmark program by the National Federation of the Blind, every blind person who wants the freedom and mobility that a white cane provides can have it.”
The long white cane provides an effective means for blind students to get to school, blind adults to get to work, and blind seniors to remain active. Art Schreiber, a retired broadcaster from Albuquerque, New Mexico, said: “As an active blind person and someone who has traveled throughout the world, I know the white cane means freedom for blind seniors everywhere.”
Melissa Riccobono, a blind stay-at-home mom and educational consultant said: “As the mother of an active twenty-month-old son, my cane helps me to safely navigate through my busy day from walking to the playground to visiting the pediatrician.”
It is estimated that 109,000 of the 1.3 million legally blind people in the United States use a white cane. By supplying canes free of charge, this program provides the opportunity for all blind Americans to have a white cane and to participate fully in society.
The National Federation of the Blind will provide a straight, light fiberglass cane to any blind individual in the United States or Puerto Rico who requires the cane for personal use. Canes are available in the following lengths: 53, 55, 57, 59, 61, or 63 inches. Individuals may only request one free cane in any six-month period. For more information on the use of the long white cane and the National Federation of the Blind free cane program, please visit www.nfb.org.