October 15th is White Cane Safety Day in Madison


Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and Common Council has proclaimed Saturday, October 15, 2022 as “White Cane Safety Day” in the City of Madison. White Cane Safety Day celebrates the achievements of people who are Blind or visually impaired. It promotes awareness of people walking who use white canes or guide dogs to assist them and to increase awareness of Wisconsin’s White Cane Law, which requires that motorists come to a full stop before approaching closer than 10 feet to a pedestrian who is using a white cane or service animal.

While it’s important to recognize the cane’s symbolic significance to many users’ identities, the cane also serves a more literal purpose. A white cane in particular legally identifies someone as blind or visually impaired. This is most important as an indicator to motorists that a pedestrian may not be able to see them.

“White cane day is an opportunity for people to learn about pedestrian safety and disability inclusion, but more importantly, it is a day of pride for people who are B/blind,” said Rebecca Hoyt, City of Madison Disability Rights and Services Specialist.

The City of Madison has been incorporating accessible features in its transportation infrastructure to increase the safety of pedestrians who are blind or have a visual impairment. One example is providing accessible pedestrian signals at signalized intersections throughout the city by request of residents. These devices help those with vision impairments find the pedestrian button and identify to them when it is appropriate to begin their crossing by way of a locator tone on the button, audible messages and vibrating surfaces. The City has also began to install accessible pedestrian signals in combination with Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons, which provide a locator tone on the pedestrian button and trigger an audible message when flashing yellow beacons are activated. Residents can request an accessible pedestrian signal by completing the form for an Audible Pedestrian Signal and emailing Traffic Engineering.

“White Cane Safety Day is an opportunity to highlight the role that we all play in ensuing that our streets are safe for pedestrians, particularly those who are blind or visually impaired,” said Yang Tao, City Traffic Engineer. “As the City’s Vision Zero initiative focuses on our commitment to reducing all serious and fatal injuries while increasing mobility and equity for everyone, this is something we will continue to focus on even more going forward.”

The City encourages its residents and visitors to learn about the White Cane Project and actively participate in creating a safe and inclusive community for people with disabilities.

More information about the White Cane Project can be found at the White Cane Safety Day website.



Image shows person with white cane on corner waiting to cross street in crosswalk using an Audible Pedestrian Signal (yellow sign with “walk” figure shown black)
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