Saturday, October 23, 2010

White Cane Safety Day Proclamation

As those who speak with me for more then two minutes about politics knows I have huge disagreements with Obama about everything from economics to civil rights matters. Having said this I have always been most impressed by his White Cane Day proclamations, and felt it important to reprint it here.

The focus on the white cane as a symbol of freedom and independence, as well as the mention of the importance of Braille as literacy, are major points and should not be overlooked. Regardless of whether a given day is a travel easy day or one where I am veering all over the place, the fact that I can navigate independently is so important, and can be overlooked when not compared with the fairly recent past.

Additionally, the ability to read is extremely important. Although I don't read as quickly as I would like, the ability to use Braille, no matter how slowly, is a blessing. I know of those who can make it with just sound, but I question if their life is really enhanced by this lack.

October 15, 2010

The white cane, in addition to being a practical mobility tool, serves as a symbol of dignity, freedom, and independence for individuals who are blind or
visually impaired. On White Cane Safety Day, our Nation celebrates the immeasurable contributions the Americans who use canes have made as valued members
of our diverse country. We also examine our progress and recommit to full integration, equality, education, and opportunity for Americans with visual impairments.

Today, students with disabilities are reaching achievements considered unattainable just a few decades ago. Many gains have been realized throughout our
educational system, but we must accomplish more so that America's technological advances and assistive tools are available for the benefit of all students.
My Administration is committed to ensuring that electronic readers and other electronic equipment used by schools, including postsecondary institutions,
are accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. We are also providing guidance and technical assistance to help colleges and universities
fully comply with the legal requirements to use emerging technology that is accessible to all students in the classroom. Blindness and visual impairments
are not impediments to obtaining knowledge, and we must highlight the availability of existing tools to facilitate communication and work to improve access
to them. Additionally, the Braille code opens doors of literacy and learning to countless individuals with visual impairments across our country and around
the world, and we must work with advocates and leaders throughout our society to promote and improve Braille literacy among our students.

Americans with disabilities are Americans first and foremost, entitled to both full participation in our society and full opportunity in our economy. My
Administration is working to increase information access so Americans who are blind or visually impaired can fully participate in our increasingly interconnected
world. To expand career options for people with disabilities in the Federal Government, I signed an Executive Order directing executive departments and
agencies to design strategies to increase recruitment and hiring of these valued public servants. I was also pleased to sign the Twenty-First Century Communications
and Video Accessibility Act into law earlier this month to ensure that the jobs of the future are accessible to all. This legislation will make it easier
for people who are deaf, blind, or live with a visual impairment to use the technology our 21st-century economy depends on, from navigating digital menus
on a television to sending emails on a smart phone.

As we observe the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act this year, my Administration reaffirms our national commitment to creating access
to employment, education, and social, political, and economic opportunities for Americans with disabilities. Together with individuals who are blind or
visually impaired, service providers, educators, and employers, we will uphold our country as an inclusive, welcoming place for blind or visually impaired
people to work, learn, play, and live.

By joint resolution approved on October 6, 1964 (Public Law 88-628, as amended), the Congress designated October 15 of each year as White Cane Safety Day
to recognize the contributions of Americans who are blind or have low vision.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 15, 2010, as White Cane Safety Day. I call upon all
public officials, business and community leaders, educators, librarians, and Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of October, in the year of our two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United
States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.


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