October 10th is White Cane Day in Minnesota and the Blindness community came out strong to support the awareness of the White Cane.
Speakers shared the history of White Cane day and others talked about the freedom and independence the white cane brings to them. The Minnesota State Academy for the Blind Choir shared their voices and sang aloud in the Capital’s newly remodeled Rotundra.
With the support of the local Lions Clubs, MSAB, NFB of MN and Blind, Inc. the White Cane Day event was a great event with a lot of participation. From joining in on the choir songs to marching in the walk from the St. Paul Capital to the St. Paul Cathedral and bac,
participants chatted and walked while enjoying the nice Autumn day in Minnesota.
You can find out more about MSAB on the web.
Check out the NFB of MN on the web at www.NFBMn.org
And be sure to see what opportunities and events are happening at Blind, Inc. on the web.
And check out your local Lions Club and see what they are doing in your community.
See complete transcription below.
What Does White Cane Day Mean to You? We Do the Cane Well!
[People singing and playing instruments]
Hi, I- I’m Hunter. From BLIND Inc, and what does Cane Day mean to you?
“The White Cane Day means a lot to me, because I know that for mys-..”
Brittney: “Something that we should celebrate every year to make people aware: ‘hey, you know, we have white canes…'”
“Just show people the safety, and the awareness.”
“Day to raise awareness about safety and independence.”
“Support Cane Day, yeah!”
Welcome to Blind Abilities I’m Jeff Thompson.
[crowd of people cheering, whistling and applauding]
[Over a PA System: I’m Rob Lawson, I’m your moderator for this…]
A lot of people gathered in Minnesota’s Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota, in the newly remodeled rotunda.
They were celebrating White Cane day.
There are representatives from all spectrums of the blindness community.
[Rob continues over PA in background]
From the National Federation of the Blind, to the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind, and the Minnesota State Academy to the Deaf-Blind.
From the Department of Education, to students who are training at Blindness Learning in New Dimensions; BLIND Inc., as we most know it.
And from The Academy for the Blind, and also the director of State Services for the Blind, Carol Panko, and many others in attendance.
Bring an awareness to the White Cane.
Rob Lawson (over PA): Steve Jacobson, first Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind, of Minnesota.
[Crowd applauds and cheers]
Ron over PA:
The History of the White Cane Day…
Steve Jacobson (over PA):
Good Morning, everyone.
There’s much being said this morning about the symbolic and very real, real goal of the White Cane in the independence of Blind people.
The White Cane day means a lot to me, because I know that for my community it’s a very important day; where we recognize not only the White Cane that we use for independence, but also the opportunities that we have.
And allowing other community members to be aware of blind and visually impaired people, the contributions that we make to our communities.
So it’s a very important day to recognize: blind, visually impaired, not only the pedestrians, but also the blind community in general.
[Steve over PA, background: …Many blind people, and some professionals, viewed the Cane as a symbol of a more dependent past.
Sometimes those who carry canes, or those who travel with Dog Guides were turned away from restaurants and hotels and-…. ]
I’m Brittney and I am a student at the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind, and what White Cane day means to me: it’s something that we should celebrate every year to make people aware “Hey, you know, we have white canes.
We’re able to cross the street and get from point-A to point-B.
And to be very honest with you I’ve never heard of White Cane day until I came to the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind.
And I have been up here at the Capitol one other time for this event.
The blind and visually handicapped, and the otherwise physically disabled, have the same right as able-bodied people to full and free use of: streets, highways, sidewalks, walk-ways, public building, public facilities and other public places.
The law further guaranteed our right to restaurants and hotels, all mode of public transportation.
And quote: “Other places to which the general public is invited.” End-quote.
The Minnesota White Cane Law also states that every totally, or partially blind person shall have the right to be accompanied by a guide dog; in any of the places listed in Minnesota statues.
I’m Martha Harris I’m from Minneapolis.
I worked for a BLIND incorporated.
And I’m just here for my students, and myself, and we’re gonna enjoy listening to everybody, and doing the Cane Walk.
My name is Jessica Saari and I’m here with MSAB, Minnesota State Academy for the Blind.
Day to raise awareness about safety and independence.
Hi my name is Scott Michael Tokunaga, I actually am from Hawaii.
I’m currently working at BLIND Incorporated, doing my apprenticeship there.
And I am here at the Cane Walk here to bring awareness to people who every day live their lives, you know, living their lives day one; and using their long white canes to navigate through the city here, in Minnesota.
I’m glad to be here.
Steve over PA:
Let us commit ourselves to make this world a still better place, for those Blind persons that come after us.
[Crowd cheers and applauds]
Hello there everyone, I am Terry Wilding.
I’m the superintendent for the Minnesota State Academies in Fairbault.
I really appreciate seeing so many faces out here today, in support of this event.
And not only blind, I’m not a blind person, I’m a deaf individual.
But all my life I’ve experienced lot of different kinds of barriers and discrimination.
And sometimes decisions were made for me, instead of me being a part of making those decisions myself.
Which is based on how society has to run today.
The reason we are here today is It’s so important for us to work together, make sure that we remove all those barriers, and we are able to be independent in our daily lives.
The decisions should be made by each person, your dreams, your goals, your lives.
Each individual person should be making those decisions.
And we should face no discrimination in this world today.
That’s a really important part of our efforts, in this ongoing process, to make this room but for everyone.
I mean, technology has changed over time, and sometimes it makes things better and sometimes it makes things worse.
So we really need to do a continue our job of educating the world about what we need, about how can become independent, and have successful futures.
And really that’s what I want to see for our students, and everyone who’s here in attendance today.
So thank you everyone for coming today and helping us fight for world that we can do anything in.
And that’s exactly what we want.
To remove those barriers that are put on us.
So thank you, I look forward to it.
[Applause and cheering]
How would you guys like to hear the White Can Day Proclamation?
[crowd cheers in agreeance ]
We’re in for a treat.
We have John Davis, The Minnesota State Academy for the Blind director.
Good Morning, it’s good to see everybody here, for this wonderful day.
It’s a nice crisp day for it.
It’s my pleasure to read Governor Mark Dayton’s proclamation for White Cane Day:
Whereas, a joint resolution approved on October 6th of 1964, the United States Congress designated October 15th of each year as White Cane Safety day.
Recognizing contributions of Americans who are blind or visually impaired.
And whereas there are an estimated 63,000 Minnesotans who are blind or visually impaired.
Many of whom travel with a white cane, and whereas, the need for orientation and mobility services, and white cane safety awareness will continue to grow and remain vital to the educational, vocational and recreational needs of all Minnesotans who are blind or visually impaired, and whereas, on Wednesday October 10th, 2017 Minnesota Department of Education, Minnesota State Academy for the Blind, Minnesota State Academy for the Blind Foundation, and the Lion’s Club in recognition of the 53rd anniversary of White Cane Safety day will hold a state-wise White Cane Safety Awareness Day event.
Now therefore, I, Mark Dayton, Governor of Minnesota, do hereby proclaim Tuesday, October 10th, 2017 as White Cane Safety Awareness Day…
.. In the state of Minnesota.
The choir of MSAB. Director; Jennifer Pelletier.
[Choir begins to sing]
Why am I off at White Cane day with my white cane in my hand?
I think it’s important to tell everybody, that we are here.
That this white cane means yield, or stopped, and I want to thank the people of Faribault, Minnesota; who when I walk across the street, they stop.
And- and I always have my cane in front of me.
I always lifted about a foot off the ground before I start walking, so the drivers know that I’m going to be moving.
So even if I have the the green light, I still put my cane up and then back down again, and then I cross the street.
I want to thank them for their kindness and stopping in my community.
So I’m up here at the Capitol to say that very same thing.
[Choir continues in background]
I’m Anna, and I’m from Republic of Georgia.
So I am exchange student for one year and it was the first time when I had White Cane Day in the United States.
Yeah I’ve had my White Cane day in my country, but it’s really interesting when you have white cane day, or something, in another country. So White Cane day means for me: independence, freedom, and more safety.
It’s really important day for me.
I’m Daniel Wenzel, I’m the executive director for Blindness Learning In New Dimensions, or BLIND Incorporated.
We are training center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
We work with blind people of all ages.
This is a really important day for me.
I recently celebrated an anniversary, and that is I’ve been carrying my cane for longer that I haven’t carried a cane.
As a blind individual I find that that really gives me freedom.
Who thinks the cane and guide dogs give freedom?
Let’s hear it
[Audience cheers loudly]
If you think about it these tools of blindness are magical.
They’re magical because they give us an opportunity go out there and do what we need to do every day.
Whether it’s going out there getting more classes, or going and getting to a job, or going out and having a good time; and participating in recreation that is all around the great state of Minnesota.
But the real magic, and the real independence, doesn’t start with the guide dog or with the cane it starts inside of you.
Each and every one of you has a spirit, and the cane or a guide dog is just one tool that you can use to enhance that spirit, and to optimize your independence.
For me the most exciting thing about the days like today is that I’m not walking alone; I’m marching with my fellow Blind people, showing that we are independent.
I look forward to seeing you, not just today; but all around the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, or Minnesota, or in other states, or wherever our paths may cross.
I look forward to hearing today the- the- the- tap of canes, the click of paws, as we go and show that blind people can truly be independent.
My name is Ken Trebelhorn, Mr. Trebelhorn I am the technology instructor at the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind, in Faribault Minnesota.
I’m here at the Capitol today to celebrate the White Cane day.
We’re celebrating today, and showing people, and doing a little walk down towards the Cathedral and back; to just show people the safety, and the awareness, and the responsibilities of other people when they see a white cane.
What do you teach at BLIND Incorporated?
I do communication.
So I’m Braille and Technology
So they’ve actually combined those classes?
I mean they’ve done that a while ago; but how’s that going?
It goes really well.
Some people, you know, some people come in knowing, and some people don’t; so we start them on Braille displays and slates and styluses for making labels and stuff like that.
But we have a lot of people who, you know, read on the Braille display.
So Braille and Technology.
Or they research a recipe on their phone, or on the computer, and then they write it in Braille, or write it on the slate.
You know, so it’s a good combining of everything.
All the stuff kind of relates together.
Hi my name is Jenny Pellitier, and I’m the music therapist at MSAB.
We would like to have you all join us in a song.
This is actually a White Cane day song.
It was written by a school in New Zealand…
In today’s day and age you probably have students that started out with JAWS or some type of screen reader from a kid, and then started Braille.
So what’s it like when you get someone that’s so advanced coming in?
It’s always really helpful, because there’s still more to learn.
If they’ve learned Braille forever, maybe they want to work on their reading speed; or maybe they just want to read some more in Braille, or learn to slate.
Because some people didn’t learn to do that.
Or they can learn another screenreader, NVDA, voiceover, learn a different operating system.
Mac or Android, because a lot of people who grew up with JAWS don’t always know Mac, or don’t always know Androids.
So it’s just another chance to learn other systems.
Your whole entire staff and students are here today.
Yes, everybody is here.
When you do plan the events such as this; what’s it like to get everybody here and stuff?
Do they all understand the individuality of it of traveling, and-?
Yeah, we sort of traveled together in smaller groups.
I have two students, and another instructor had a couple, and so we all came together as a group; and then all the other groups are spread out.
So we could take buses and trains, but not all be getting on at the same time.
Well Martha, thanks a lot for taking your time and enjoy Cane day, at the Capitol!
Martha: Thank you, you as well.
[Acousitc guitar music, singing]
Hello, my name is Kristen Hoyem, I’m a state specialist for the blind, with the Minnesota Department of Education.
Thank you Jennifer and the MSAB Choir, and everyone for singing that song.
Thank you so much.
Ok, I’m going to just run through the route with you.
There is a mistake on the written…
Moderator Rob Hobson gave a big ‘Thank you,’ to the sponsors of the event.
White Cane Day at the Capitol.
Included where: the local Lions Clubs of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area; Minnesota State Academy for the Blind, the National Federation of the Blind, of Minnesota and BLIND Incorporated, Blindness Learning In New Dimensions.
We all proceeded to go for the walk, where we cross streets went down sidewalks.
It was a great day, nice autumn weather.
It was Minnesota nice.
Thanks for listening.
We hope you enjoyed, until next time.
[Music fades out]
-When we share
-What we see
-Through each other’s eyes…
[Multiple voices overlapping, in unison,
to form a single sentence]
…We can then begin to bridge the gap between the limited expectations, and the realities of Blind Abilities.
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Thanks for listening.