SV Students Bring Awareness to White Cane Day

Seneca Valley School District  |  Posted on

White Cane Awareness Day

Visually impaired students at Seneca Valley Senior High School visited the quaint town of Harmony to practice pedestrian crossing in observance of White Cane Awareness Day (October 15).

Ms. Jessica Sloan, Midwestern Intermediate Unit (MIU) IV teacher of the visually impaired, supervised her students, junior Nick Berger and senior Elizabeth Demaster as they practiced crossing intersections with their white canes.

Both Mr. Berger and Miss Demaster have Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI). While they do have a lot of usable vision, their brain struggles to process what the eyes are seeing due to damage in cortical pathways to the brain. Both Mr. Berger and Miss Demaster have difficulty with depth perception skills, so the cane can allow them to identify curbs with ease at street crossings, and to ascend and descend steps safely.

Those with CVI tend to do best maneuvering around familiar environments, which is why Mr. Berger and Miss Demaster can walk around school without the cane, although when going out into the community the cane is vital to keep them safe.

White Cane Awareness Day is observed annually on October 15. It is set aside to celebrate the achievements of those who are blind or visually impaired and the importance of the white cane, as it’s used as a tool to help keep them safe and navigate through the environment.

“You can identify a white cane from other canes, because the shaft is white, and there is at least 6 inches of red at the bottom,” said Ms. Sloan. “Many times, the cane is made of reflective materials to help drivers spot it at night, and a fun fact is that the cane grip is made of the same material golf clubs have on their handles to allow for the traveler to have a secure grip even in the rain, snow or if their hands are sweating in the heat.”

Additional enrichment activities took place on campus to recognize White Cane Awareness Day. Mr. Berger created a bulletin board with facts about the white cane, Miss Demaster created and distributed white chocolate covered pretzels resembling white canes and sophomore Ciara Schneider worked with SVTV by creating a diagram that demonstrates the different parts of the white cane.

Ms. Sloan added, “In my opinion, the most important aspect of White Cane Day is to bring awareness to the community about the white cane and how it provides independence and safety for individuals who are visually impaired.”

Ms. Sloan currently works with 35 students from across the district who have visual impairments including four high school students who are using the white cane. Mr. Berger and Miss Demaster continue working on analyzing intersections to determine if they are safe to cross, and to use the cane to cross streets at non-controlled intersections and intersections controlled by stop signs. The next phase they will practice with Ms. Sloan is crossing intersections controlled by stop lights.