Every October Gerry DiFranza heads to the State House so people can be aware of the “White Cane” and what is
means to the person carrying it.
“It’s a symbol of independence and blindness,” he said.
This year White Cane Law Day is Tuesday, Oct. 16 at the Massachusetts State House.
“You learn the white cane first, then you can go to guide dogs,” said DiFranza, who has been legally blind since the age of two. “If the dog gets sick or something then you have a backup.”
DiFranza graduated from Jamaica Plain High School, and from Bunker Hill Community College with a degree in human services. Although he wanted to work with children an advisor suggested he take a course on aging.
“Why not learn to work with both,” he said. “It worked out well. I worked in the kitchen of the old Boston City Hospital and became a dietary services representative.”
DiFranza is passionate about making sure people become aware of the white cane.
The white cane was adopted in 1930 in Peoria, Ill., by the International Lions Club. They encouraged the use of the white cane when people were traveling. This let everyone around them know they were blind or visually impaired.
Tap. Tap. Tap. Is a sign of independence and the walker scans their area for obstacles or objects that determine a path.
Here are some tips to see if a person needs assistance:
- First ask
- Do not grab the person, cane or guide dog
- Do not pet the guide dog. Most guide dogs are working and petting can be a distraction to the dog.
- The Massachusetts White Can Law states that all motorists, when they see a pedestrian who uses a guide dog or white cane at a street crossing, must come to a complete stop.
For more information call the Massachusetts Commission on the Blind at 617-626-7581.