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white cane awareness monthEddie Carreiro doesn’t allow his vision loss to stop him from doing anything. He credits his “I can attitude” as the biggest reason for his adjustment to losing his vision. Eddie also his Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS) played a significant role in getting him to travel independently. Eddie was one of three consumers who shared their white cane stories at the Annual MCB White Cane Safety event at the Massachusetts State House last month.

Held each October, White Cane Safety Day is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of individuals who are blind or visually impaired, celebrate the usage of the white cane and the independence it symbolizes, and recognize the importance of the Massachusetts White Cane Law. Eddie talked about going from not being able to walk down his driveway, to walking alone and crossing two major highways to get his Dunkin’ Donuts coffee every morning.

“It’s a small thing, but extremely important to me. I was petrified of crossing busy streets after losing my vision,” said Carreiro.

Erin Deveney from the Massachusetts Registrar of Motor Vehicles also spoke about some of the initiatives the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is undertaking to better educate the driving public on the White Cane Safety Law. Deveney described the RMV’s marketing efforts to promote white cane awareness including public service announcements regarding white cane awareness on electronic highway billboards and video loops at RMV offices during the month of October.

The audience heard from Anicia Almedia, a member of the Perkins Chamber Singers, who spoke about being embarrassed to use her white cane and putting herself in danger. She now travels with her white cane and claims it gives her tremendous confidence. Francisco “Dany” Acosta also shared his story and encouraged everyone to persevere and have a purpose in life.

white cane awareness month

Commissioner Saner addressing the public at White Cane Awareness Month

Massachusetts Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo was on hand to present the O & M Community Advocacy Award and a citation to Winthrop resident Gerald DiFranza for his advocacy work. DiFranza, a member of MCB’s Region 6 Regional Advisory Council, had been an indefatigable advocate. Gerry’s advocacy work goes well beyond those who are blind. He is an advocate for all residents of the Commonwealth who have a disability.

“Our goal is that today’s event will serve as a reminder of the great strides and contributions that those with visual impairments are making at home, in the workplace, and in their respective communities, many due in part to the white cane that fosters mobility and independence,” said Commissioner Paul Saner.

White Cane Safety Day, which falls officially on October 15 each year, is also an opportunity to remind drivers about Massachusetts’s White Cane law, which states that a motorist must come to a complete stop and yield the right-of-way to anyone using a white cane or a guide dog at an intersection.

You can access the Massachusetts White Cane Law by clicking on the link below:
http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/mcb/orientation-mobility/

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