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To see or to be seen: on the development of the white cane

Poster Details

First Author: SibylleScholtz GERMANY

Co Author(s):    Stefanie Liebers   Florian T. Kretz   Gerd U. Auffarth        

Abstract Details


Blind people have used canes as mobility tools for centuries. The invention of the “White Cane” seems to be a story of controversies. This poster will reflect the different starting points of the origin(s) of the white cane.


: (1)International Vision Correction Research Centre (IVCRC), Dept. of Ophthalmology, University of Heidelberg, Germany, (2)Schloss-Schule Ilvesheim - Schule für Blinde und Sehbehinderte, Ilvesheim, Germany


Selective literature research of books and articles in journals via PubMed, Google Scholar and Google.


Three people played the mayor role in the history of the white cane: James Biggs (UK), 1921, who became blind after an accident, he painted his walking stick white to be seen better. Guilly d´Herbemont (France), 1931, who gave the first white canes to blind people in France. Member of Lions Club George A. Bonham (USA), 1930, saw the danger in using black canes as well, 1931 the Lions Club International begun promoting the use of white canes for the blind successfully in the US.


Today the white cane is not only a mobility device, it is as well a symbol for blind people and a Medical Device class I. To keep the awareness high for blind and visually impaired people the US proclaimed October, 15. as “White Cane Safety Day” in 1964. FINANCIAL INTEREST: NONE

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