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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 15, 1998




The white cane is both a simple tool and a powerful symbol. For people who are blind or visually impaired, it can be the key to greater mobility, giving them information about their surroundings and allowing them to travel safely whether crossing the street or crossing the country. For those who are sighted, the white cane shows that blind or visually impaired people have the ability, the desire, and the right to participate in every aspect of our national life. It is also a reminder that, whether as pedestrians or drivers, we should respond with care and courtesy to people using a white cane. And for all of us, the white cane symbolizes the independence every citizen needs and deserves if he or she is to contribute fully to society.

Our annual observance of White Cane Safety Day gives us the opportunity not only to celebrate the accomplishments of those who use the white cane, but also to renew our commitment to removing those barriers, both physical and attitudinal, that prevent people with disabilities from reaching their full potential. Since passage of the Rehabilitation Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Fair Housing Amendments Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Telecommunications Act, we have made great progress in our efforts to ensure that all people with disabilities enjoy equal access to employment opportunities, education, public accommodations, housing, transportation, telecommunications, emerging technologies, and other aspects of our society.

We still have a long way to go, however, before we achieve the full inclusion, empowerment, and independence of all Americans with disabilities. The public and private sectors must work in partnership to raise awareness of the rights protected by the ADA and other laws, as well as the responsibilities and obligations these laws mandate. It is crucial that we pursue a comprehensive strategy to enable people with all types of disabilities to obtain and sustain competitive employment in our Nation's thriving economy. Men and women with disabilities have much to offer, and their energy, creativity, and hard work can greatly strengthen our Nation and our economy. As we observe White Cane Safety Day and acknowledge the importance of the white cane as an instrument of personal freedom, let us reaffirm our determination to ensure equal opportunity for every American, including people who are blind or visually impaired.

To honor the many achievements of blind and visually impaired citizens and to recognize the white cane's significance in advancing independence, the Congress, by joint resolution approved October 6, 1964, has designated October 15 of each year as "White Cane Safety Day."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 15, 1998, as White Cane Safety Day. I call upon the people of the United States, government officials, educators, and business leaders to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-third.


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