Important day on Guide Dogs calendar

International White Cane Day (IWCD), which falls on October 15, is a day to celebrate the achievements of people with blindness or low vision and highlight the white cane as a life changing symbol and tool of independence.

IWCD is always an important day on the Guide Dogs calendar, as the white cane is the mobility tool of choice for most Guide Dogs clients.

The Central Coast Volunteer Support Group started in 1982 and since then volunteers have been active in fundraising from The Entrance to Woy Woy with stalls at shopping centres, handing out information and selling merchandise.

They are available to share their experiences with visitors and discuss how Guide Dogs provide services to help people with low vision or blindness.

One of the support group members, Robert Lillico, is a pedestrian with impaired vision and is very reliant on his hearing to determine when it’s safe to cross the road.

He said this could be problematic when it came to cyclists as he was unable to hear their bikes and on occasions he has had near misses with bicycles on footpaths and running red lights.

Lillico urges cyclists and other road users to be more aware.

President of the Central Coast Support Group, Merran Rudder, said every dollar from the community counted.

“Guide Dogs NSW/ACT only receives minimal government funding.

“We appreciate the Central Coast community who continue to visit our stalls and the support given to us by Central Coast shopping centres who provide space for our fundraising stalls,” Rudder said.

The cane has a long history as a mobility aid and has existed in various forms for nearly a century.

In 1921 English photographer James Biggs became blind as a result of an accident and painted his walking stick white to be more easily visible.

For this he is credited as the creator of the white cane.

Several types of canes exist to help with various functions, such as the long cane which is used to detect obstacles and hazards in front of someone, and the identification cane which is used as a visible signal to others that the user is blind or has low vision and the support cane which functions more like a walking stick.

Harry Mulholland