Baltimore, Maryland (August 19, 2008): The National Federation of
the Blind (NFB), the nation's oldest and largest organization of
blind people, today
announced an initiative to ensure that any blind person in the United
States and Puerto Rico who needs a long white cane will have one,
regardless of ability
to pay. The NFB will provide a free cane to anyone in the fifty
states, the District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico who is blind or has
low vision and who
uses or desires to use a white cane in order to travel
independently. This historic initiative is the largest effort ever
of its kind to provide white
canes to individuals who are blind or have low vision.
"The white cane is both a symbol of and a tool for independence,"
said Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the
Blind. "It allows blind
individuals to travel whenever and wherever they want, leading to
self-confidence and self-sufficiency. With the initiation of this
landmark program by
the National Federation of the Blind, every blind person who wants
the freedom and mobility that a white cane provides can have it."
The long white cane provides an effective means for blind students to
get to school, blind adults to get to work, and blind seniors to
Art Schreiber, a retired broadcaster from Albuquerque, New Mexico,
said: "As an active blind person and someone who has traveled
throughout the world,
I know the white cane means freedom for blind seniors everywhere."
Melissa Riccobono, a blind stay-at-home mom and educational
consultant said: "As the mother of an active twenty-month-old son, my
cane helps me to safely
navigate through my busy day from walking to the playground to
visiting the pediatrician."
It is estimated that 109,000 of the 1.3 million legally blind people
in the United States use a white cane. By supplying canes free of
charge, this program
provides the opportunity for all blind Americans to have a white cane
and to participate fully in society.
The National Federation of the Blind will provide a straight, light
fiberglass cane to any blind individual in the United States or
Puerto Rico who requires
the cane for personal use. Canes are available in the following
lengths: 53, 55, 57, 59, 61, or 63 inches. Individuals may only
request one free cane
in any six-month period. For more information on the use of the long
white cane and the National Federation of the Blind free cane
program, please visit