Don't Touch Someone's White Cane, And Other Important Tips

15/10/2015 7:38 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST
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SEBASTIEN BOZON via Getty Images
Clement Gass, who is nearly blind, runs the 26 km 'trail of Kochersberg' with a white cane and a GPS device using voice navigation in Quatzenheim, eastern France, on June 13, 2015. Gass, 27, ran the trail along with 219 other participants without the assistance of another athlete. AFP PHOTO / SEBASTIEN BOZON (Photo credit should read SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/Getty Images)

When White Cane User Sarah Boulton heard a child asking about her in public, she hoped they would approach.

She has a vision impairment and had been using her white cane to navigate Brisbane's Queen Street Mall.

The woman asked if her son could ask a question: Why are you vacuuming?

"It was the sweetest thing," Boulton said.

"People are often curious about how my vision became impaired or how I use my white cane, but I'd never been asked that before."

To celebrate White Cane Day, not-for-profit organisation Vision Australia is encouraging people to learn more about people who use white canes.

For starters, cane use trainer Marta Fonmudeh says, not everyone who uses a white cane is blind.

"It's not all black and white when it comes to white canes," the senior orientation and mobility specialist said.

"Some people will only use a cane in certain situations or times of the day, like in low light, or while going underneath a shady underpass.

"That can be confusing for some people, they'll think 'well are you blind or aren't you?'. This day is about letting people understand white cane users more."

Fonmudeh said an important issue was educating people about how to approach or help a white cane user.

"The worst thing you can do is grab someone's cane, or turn them around, because even moving one degree will completely disorient them.

"They'll be completely lost."

Instead, Fonmudeh said she worked with users to learn how to ask for help, but also how to politely decline it.

Advocacy and Engagement leader and white cane user Maryanne Diamond said one thing was certain -- the world is becoming more accessible for white cane users.

"It's definitely getting easier," Diamond said.

"White Cane Day helps to spread understanding."

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