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Tallahassee Activists Want TPD To Step Up Enforcement of Law That Protects People With Visual Impairments

A man who is presumed to be visually impaired holds a white cane. He rolls the cane back and forth across the sidewalk as he moves forward.
Andrey Popov
/
Adobe Stock
People with visual impairments can use travel aids called white canes. The canes are typically white with red near the tip and help those who are visually impaired maneuver their surroundings.

Local activists are asking the Tallahassee Police Department to give officers additional training on what's commonly known as Florida's White Cane Law. It says drivers must come to a complete stop when they see someone crossing or attempting to cross the road with the help of a guide dog or white cane. A white cane is a travel aid that someone with a visual impairment can use to scan the ground in front of them. It is typically white with a red strip near its tip.

Tallahassee resident Sila Miller and her husband are visually impaired. They rely on a guide dog or white cane to get around. Miller says if more officers know about the White Cane Law, they can determine if someone has violated it and charge them. She says in her experience, officers aren't always informed.

"My husband was struck, and when the police officer arrived on the scene, they were not aware of the white cane law," Miller says.

She explains that lawmakers often rely on statistics when drafting bills, so it's important for officers to be aware of the White Cane Law and properly note violations. TPD is working on creating additional training and has sent out an email reminding officers of the law.

White Cane Awareness Day is Thursday. The council and TPD will be holding a walk in recognition of the day at Lake Ella this Saturday from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. The Golden Corral, located at 1630 North Monroe, is the gathering place for the event.

Corrected: October 14, 2020 at 7:42 PM EDT
A previous version of this story referred to white canes as walking sticks. That reference has been corrected.