[Nfbmo] Hey, What's With the White Cane

Roger Crome rogerc at lifecilmo.org
Wed Oct 19 16:03:59 UTC 2016

I think that the challenge that we face in regard to TV and movies is getting the accurate portrayals.  Dan, since the rest of us aren't like you and Dare Devil, we probably need a bit tamer portrayal.  Lol  Seriously though, it is odd that people who are blind are always portrayed in the extreme.  Super powers or incompetence with no middle ground seems to be the accepted norm.  I would love to see a show that stars a blind person as a lawyer or whatever profession with this person either being the hero or villan but doing so using typical blindness skills and technology.  To me, a show like this could feed the need for complex story lines while creating a realistic portrayal of blindness that is neither negative nor flattering.  I suppose we'll just have to wait until Julie makes it to the big screen and turns things around.

-----Original Message-----
From: Nfbmo [mailto:nfbmo-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Dan Flasar via Nfbmo
Sent: Tuesday, October 18, 2016 11:09 PM
To: nfbmo at nfbnet.org
Cc: DanFlasar at aol.com
Subject: Re: [Nfbmo] Hey, What's With the White Cane

Well heck,
   We've had 2 seasons of a blind superhero who fights criminals  on rooftops, practices law during the day and perceives the world via heightened  
hearing.   What more do you want?
PS   He does, however, use a white cane during the day in his  secret 
identity as Matt Murphy, whereas DareDevil doesn't seem to need  one - unless num-chuks count?
In a message dated 10/17/2016 10:20:49 A.M. Central Daylight Time,  
nfbmo at nfbnet.org writes:

I wonder how  many of you share this experience? I do not. Quite frequently 
hear people  telling their children that they should move out of the way
because there  is a man with a cane. When they are asked what the man is
doing with the  stick, the parents explain that this is the way he sees what
is in front of  him. I do not find the younger generation unaware of what 
white cane  stands for, and I do not believe that allowing foolish 
of blind  people to appear without challenge diminishes the number of white
canes we  see on television. If it does, this only makes it more imperative
that we  press for realistic blind characters to appear on the screen. I 
can't  get my head around the idea that the cost of demanding accuracy  in
television depictions is that no one knows what that long white stick  is

I'd love your thoughts.

-----Original  Message-----
From: Nfbmo [mailto:nfbmo-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of  nancy Lynn via
Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2016 9:47 AM
To:  mcb chat; nfbmo list; NFBC List
Cc: nancy Lynn
Subject: [Nfbmo] Hey,  What's With the White Cane

I got this from another list and thought  you'd like to see it.
Hey, What's With the White Cane?.

Honest  depictions of disabled people have vanished from popular culture.. 
Jim  Knipfel . Oct. 15 is national White Cane Safety Day, first decreed  by
President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Never heard of it? You're not  alone.
I'll admit, even as a blind man who uses a white cane on a daily  basis, 
15 doesn't get my heart racing, save for one irony: It's not  just the day
that Americans don't recognize; increasingly it's the white  cane and what 
symbolizes. Think of it as another kind of blindness. I  began noticing the
signs roughly seven years ago. My wife and I were in New  York City on a
Saturday night, working our way down a crowded sidewalk on  our way to a
show. The going seemed unusually slow and frustrating, even  for New York.
Soon the reason was clear: No one was stepping out of the way  to let us
pass. Some were transfixed by cellphones, but others looked  directly at us,
looked at my cane with some confusion, and still refused to  take a step in
either direction. I soon realized that many people under the  age of 35, not
just in New York City, but across the country, no longer  know what a white
cane represents. On more than one occasion, people in  their 20s have
approached me and asked, "What's that cane for? For  millennia the blind 
used canes and staffs as navigational tools to  help detect obstacles in our
path. After World War II, with so many blind  veterans returning home, the
standard cane design was refashioned. Mobility  sticks grew longer and were
wrapped in red and white reflective tape. By  the time LBJ made his 1964
declaration, the white cane was an accepted part  of the culture. So how
could a symbol of disability as common as the  wheelchair so abruptly vanish
from our collective consciousness? A friend  has a theory. In the 1980s and
'90s, as political correctness began  infiltrating popular culture, it 
verboten to portray the disabled,  particularly the blind, in anything
perceived to be an unflattering light.  In a blink, bumbling characters with
white canes, once a mainstay of  slapstick films, cartoon shorts and comic
strips, vanished. What blind  characters we did get now had superpowers or
were masters of the martial  arts, and rarely had any use for a white cane,
even as a signifier. As a  result, children who once grew up with images of
characters with white  canes no longer saw them, and so the common
understanding of the blind and  our symbology began to fade. Questions of
"dignity," "respect" and  "inclusion" aside, expunging blind characters from
pop culture for fear of  offending someone has had dangerous repercussions
when it comes to the  daily lives of blind Americans. If fewer and fewer
people recognize its  meaning, what use does the cane maintain as a symbol
directed at the  sighted? Pedestrians who once stepped out of the way are 
occasionally  hostile obstacles. And with hybrid and electric cars growing
quieter,  walking just a few blocks in a well-known neighborhood can become 
perilous journey. Despite all the far-reaching achievements of the  
with Disabilities Act, the tool that I and other blind Americans  have
trusted to give us some modicum of protection and visibility is fast  losing
all meaning. Ironically, the best way for us to mark White Cane  Safety Day
may well be to stay home. Mr. Knipfel, a former staff writer for  the New
York Press, is the author of "Residue" (Red Hen Press, 2015).  .

Nfbmo mailing  list
Nfbmo at nfbnet.org
To  unsubscribe, change your list options or get your account info for  

Nfbmo  mailing  list
Nfbmo at nfbnet.org
To  unsubscribe, change your list options or get your account info for  

Nfbmo mailing list
Nfbmo at nfbnet.org
To unsubscribe, change your list options or get your account info for Nfbmo:

More information about the NFBMO mailing list