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Walking with purpose: International White Cane Day 2023

October 11, 2023
Image of a white cane on the street.

International White Cane Day (IWCD), 15 October, is a day to celebrate the achievements of people with low vision or blindness and highlight the White Cane as a life-changing symbol and tool of independence.

IWCD is always an important day on the Guide Dogs calendar – as the White Cane is the mobility tool of choice for the majority of our Clients.

Right now, the importance of the White Cane as a visual signifier of low vision and blindness is more important than ever. It is a reminder to everyone to be mindful of the accessibility of our public spaces so people with low vision or blindness can continue to move safely, confidently and independently through any environment.

Help Guide Dogs celebrate IWCD at Southbank!

This year, Guide Dogs will set up camp along the Clem Jones promenade at Southbank, offering people an opportunity to experience a blindfolded walk with a White Cane.

There will be giveaways and lots of information on hand, not to mention our trusty Orientation and Mobility Specialists will be on deck to help guide those willing to give a blindfolded walk a go!

Click here for the details of our event.

Walking with purpose – understanding the challenges

Earlier this year, Guide Dogs conducted research* to better understand the needs of people around Australia with low vision or blindness. Over 600 people aged 18 years and over participated in the survey, and the results might surprise you:

  • Nearly all (96%) respondents have experienced footpath issues in the last two years. Micro mobility (e-scooters, e-bikes), shared paths, shared roads and crowd protection barriers were reported as new emerging footpath issues.
  • Over 60% of respondents reported overhanging branches were the most problematic.
  • Almost 50% of respondents reported footpath works, electric scooters/bikes/micro mobility, shared paths, outdoor dining, and display of goods were a problem.
  • And alarmingly, only one in five respondents are confident (‘very’ or ‘extremely’) to cross when the footpath and the road are at the same level.

*EY Sweeney Research for Guide Dogs Australia, March 2023

Did you know?

  • There are an estimated 575,000 Australians living with low vision or blindness
  • In Queensland, there are 5,502 White Cane users across the State, including 338 who are under the age of 18
  • A White Cane can aid in providing people with mobility and independence to safely live their lives to the fullest
  • Over the past 20 years, Guide Dogs Queensland has assisted over 6,500 people in familiarising themselves with the White Cane