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Monday / June 24.
HomeminewsGuide Dogs Campaign Urges Public to be Aware of White Cane Users

Guide Dogs Campaign Urges Public to be Aware of White Cane Users

This International White Cane Day, 15 October, Guide Dogs Australia are urging the public to be more aware of people with low vision or blindness.

The ‘Look up. Listen up. Let me be.’ campaign aims to make streets safer and more accessible for white cane users by asking people to look up from their phones and turn their earphone volume down or off, as well as discourage them from trying to help by grabbing canes without first asking. It is also important that people are aware of white cane users and give them space to navigate.

we can all level up our awareness game to make our streets and public spaces a safer environment for everyone

A recent survey by Guide Dogs Australia found that three in four cane users contribute obstructions to their path to people distracted by mobiles and headphones. As well as this, around round half of the respondents identified people riding bikes and scooters on pathways to be a major risk to their safety.

A third of Guide Dogs Australia clients also reported having themselves or their cane non-consensually touched or grabbed.

“One of the main challenges I experience when out and is people with their heads in their mobile phones. It’s awkward if I bump into them with my cane,” says Hannen Abdallah, Guide Dogs client and white cane user. “Also, it’s great when people ask if I need assistance, but if I say no, please let me keep on my way. By grabbing my arm or taking me off my known path, I can get distracted and disoriented and have to retrace my steps.”

Ryan Jones, Orientation and Mobility Specialist with Guide Dogs, said, “While the majority of the community do the right thing and just want to help, we can all level up our awareness game to make our streets and public spaces a safer environment for everyone.”

The campaign calls for people to look up from their devices, listen up by lowering earphone volume, let white can users be by giving them space to navigate, and always ask permission before assisting.