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Happy White Cane Safety Day!

White Cane Safety Day celebrates blind and visually impaired (B&VI) people’s achievements in the United States on October 15 every year. It also reminds people of how the white cane is an important tool in helping the B&VI live with greater independence.

Pittsburgh celebrated its White Cane Safety Day on Friday the 13th. The festivities kicked-off with Jimmy Sapienza’s Five Guys Named Moe, a fabulous jazz combo comprised partly of musicians who are blind.

This year we were thrilled to join Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh, Golden Triangle Council of the Blind, and the Bureau of Blindness and Vision Services to debut our White Cane Rules of the Road initiative. Talking with people and listening to their stories of loved ones living with blindness or sight loss and their excitement of Bold Blind Beauty’s message of changing the way we perceive one another was so gratifying.

Steph McCoy stands with her with cane in front of Bold Blind Beauty's display at White Cane Safety Day celebration in Pittsburgh's Market Square.
Steph McCoy stands in front of Bold Blind Beauty’s display at White Cane Safety Day celebration in Pittsburgh’s Market Square.

A personal highlight of the event was when one of my good friends came by to help man our exhibit. She was so ecstatic when she found out all of our materials were also in accessible formats she began reading her braille packet almost as soon as she was seated. 

Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh table, banners and awareness materials.
Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh table, banners and awareness materials.

Another heartwarming moment occurred when one woman nearly cried as she was telling me of her late mother who had retinitis pigmentosa (RP). She was blown away at how we are working towards a more inclusive world and said she wished Bold Blind Beauty was around when her mother was alive.

Steph McCoy & her son Devon sharing a moment before the kick-off.
Steph McCoy & her son Devon sharing a moment before the kick-off.

As White Cane Safety Day recognizes the contributions of B&VI people within our society, Bold Blind Beauty will continue its mission of changing the way we percieve one another. Empowering blind and visually impaired women as well as connecting sighted and nonsighted communities to eliminate misconceptions around blindness is the path to our mission. 

Description: www.boldblindbeauty.com template with Abigale (Abby) to the left of the quote. The Abby icon, depicted walking with her white cane in one hand, handbag in the other, is black and white, wearing a stylish black dress and black heels. Her signature hairstyle is best described as explosive.

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Bold Blind Beauty Offers “Rules of The Road”

For Proper Cane Use at White Cane Day

Several White Cane Rules of the Road cards spread out on a tableToday, Bold Blind Beauty is pleased to announce its “White Cane Rules of the Road” initiative. In partnership with the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind, the initiative conveys tips for both blind and visually impaired (B&VI) persons and sighted persons—particularly motorists—to help keep B&VI persons safe whenever they are using their white mobility cane to navigate.

The White Cane Rules of the Road initiative kicks off with a card—printed in large type for low-vision persons, and in braille for blind persons—as part of an information packet about boldblindbeauty.com. It will début at White Cane Day celebrations in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, and Milwaukee Wisconsin.

“With increasing dangers such as quiet, hybrid cars, more complex traffic patterns, and multi-media distractions, it’s imperative that drivers are constantly on the lookout for pedestrians using white canes and dog guides.” ~Susan Lichtenfels, President, Pennsylvania Council of the Blind

Teal and white braille Bold Blind Beauty silicon bracelets, each in its own mesh drawstring gift bag and Bold Blind Beauty business cards.

The card provides tips on how to be safe when using a white cane, and inscribed on the back, are state statutes outlining the proper protocol for motorists when around B&VI cane users. The Bold Blind Beauty tables at each event will have Bold Blind Beauty braille-labeled wristbands, informational packets, and sample promotional items such as mugs and T-shirts from the website. 

In addition to indicating that a person is blind or visually impaired, the long thin white cane, is more than just a mobility tool for blind and vision impaired users. It is also a badge of strength and boldness. It provides the means for us to take back our lives, regardless of where we fall on the sight loss spectrum.” ~Stephanae McCoy

Collage of Bold Blind Beauty informational packets in print, large print and braille. The bottom photo is my Ambutech custom white cane. The grip is neon green, the last section is neon yellow and the rest of the cane is white.

White Cane Safety Day celebrates B&VI people’s achievements in the United States on October 15 every year. It also increases awareness of the white cane traffic safety laws. Following are details for the White Cane Safety Day celebrations in Pittsburgh and Milwaukee.

  • Friday, October 13th 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM in Market Square, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Tuesday, October 17th 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM CT Milwaukee County Courthouse, Milwaukee County Courthouse – South Entrance, Milwaukee, WI

If you happen to be in Pittsburgh or Milwaukee on the above dates please stop by the Bold Blind Beauty table to say hello, pick up your White Cane Rules of the Road, and a little swag. For more information about White Cane Rules of the Road visit us online at boldblindbeauty.com.

 

 

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From Passing To Passion—Finding Strength In The White Cane

Ambutech White Cane with a neon green grip and neon yellow section nearest the tip.
Ambutech White Cane

The thing that bothered me most about my sight loss was my fear of people knowing I couldn’t see. Everywhere I went I felt so vulnerable and isolated not to mention, my anxiety levels rocketed off into the stratosphere.

So what did I do as my sight deteriorated to the point where each step I took was a step closer to breaking my neck? I faked it.

Adjusting to sight loss is a process and everyone who goes through it does so in a different way. I was so used to putting on my professional mask to face each day, it was important to me that people saw what I wanted them to see—a composed person. Yet at the end of each day, and sometimes throughout the day while hidden in a restroom stall, I was a blubbering mess who felt my life was unraveling.

In addition to indicating that a person is blind or visually impaired, the long thin white cane is more than just a mobility tool for blind and vision impaired users. It is also a badge of strength and boldness. It provides the means for us to take back our lives, regardless of where we fall on the sight loss spectrum.”

Tri collage of me posing in front of my counter with my white cane wearing a black off the shoulder choker top, white jeans, black suede chunky high heels and silver jewelry.When I met with a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) to discuss the assistive technology I would need to keep my job, I was stunned when he mentioned the white cane. I expected to answer questions to determine my needs but it never crossed my mind that the white cane would be part of the discussion. I mean I couldn’t see but I wasn’t blind. I had a lot to learn.

“The only person you are fooling is yourself when you pretend you CAN see when you clearly CAN’T,” this comment from the VRC didn’t go over well with me. Even so, I grudgingly took Orientation and Mobility training to learn how to use the white cane and once my lessons were over the cane remained in my closet for quite some time.

My eventual acceptance of the white cane came about as I began to accept my sight loss. Meeting and befriending blind people who strongly advocate for the rights of blind persons led me to volunteer for several blind organizations. Becoming a part of the blind community and refocusing my efforts on helping others was the most important piece that ultimately gave me a sense of peace.

I still have days where I don’t feel as secure as I’d like, we all do, but when I come back to my why, I can recharge, readjust, and refocus to stoke the fire of my passion. Improving humanity by changing the way we perceive one another is my mission and to achieve it I must continue moving forward and doing so with my white cane. I’ve found that being Bold Blind and Beautiful comes about from living life to the best of my ability.

 

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Spotlight on White Cane Safety Day

More Than Just A Cane

Today, in recognition of the upcoming White Cane Safety Day, Bold Blind Beauty is featured on Friday Friends Spotlight at Amy’s Adventures. Following is an excerpt from the post:

“White Cane Rules of the Road kicks off with a card (printed in large type for low-vision persons—and in braille for blind persons) as part of an information packet about boldblindbeauty.com. The card was designed as a high-level overview to inform the public on the variations of the White Cane Law throughout the United States.” Continue reading