WATERTOWN — White Cane Day is returning to Watertown Saturday at the Salmon Run Mall, hosted by the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired of NNY.
The ABVINNY serves individuals in all stages of vision loss, from those who are totally blind to ones who are legally blind and visually impaired in Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties. It is one of only a few such agencies in the state.
The ABVINNY has two locations, with the newer of the two located on Arsenal Street, which houses a technology lab containing different devices like traveler magnification devices for on the go use and a store so people can purchase helpful devices, canes, or talking watches — whatever they can think of, they can order, according to Brittani Lamb, case manager with the ABVINNY. The location is also home to a rehabilitation center.
Services provided by the ABVINNY include adaptive aids like talking watches and writing guides, in-home visits, support groups, vision rehabilitation instruction, a large print newsletter called “Let’s Talk Eyes,” transportation services for grocery shopping and non-emergency medical appointments, and referrals.
From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, in the Court Area near Gertrude Hawk and Spirit Halloween, visitors can learn about the ABVINNY and the services it provides, learn about what it means to be blind or visually impaired, get their vision tested, and play games to better understand what those living with vision impairments deal with day to day.
According to Ms. Lamb, White Cane Day is a celebration of the blind and the legally blind, with the white canes representing their independence and their means of navigation.
Started in 1964, at the urging of the National Federation of the Blind, Oct. 15 was designated as White Cane Day by the U.S. Congress.
“The public is still not fully aware of blindness,” Ms. Lamb said. “People don’t realize that those who are legally blind or visually impaired may still see something. It’s not just darkness, some can still see lights, there are variations of blindness.”
This event is for people who can relate to the loss of vision or those who are simply curious. There will be different activities with blindfolds to simulate blindness, with guests having to guess what they’re touching, navigate a maze with a white cane, or stack cups into different levels of towers.
According to Ms. Lamb, when the ABVINNY does the blindfold events, people are able to identify things like pasta and other items using any senses besides sight.
“Every time we gave the kids a tennis ball, they felt it and said, ‘it’s my dog’s ball,’ they were able to identify it, but didn’t know another name for it besides their dog’s ball,” she said.
White Cane Day will also feature information about different apps to help the visually impaired, like the “See My Eyes” app, which allows a volunteer on the other side of the app to see things through the screen of the visually impaired person to help with things like locating lost items.
According to Ms. Lamb, the Lions Club is partnering with the ABVINNY for the event, and the white cane was originally designed by a Lion.
“Originally they were black and people couldn’t see them with the pavement, so a Lion painted them white so people could see them,” she said.