Local Lawmakers Stroll Blindly Down Brookside For White Cane Awareness Day

Monday, October 15th 2012, 11:09 pm
By: News On 6

A traffic test on Tulsa streets is eye-opening for two local lawmakers.

Monday is the national awareness day for the blind.

It's usually a time to celebrate the achievements of the visually impaired, but the Tulsa Council of the Blind had a different idea.

The council of the blind wanted to focus on traffic laws.

So, we tagged along to see what it's like to walk down a busy street when you can't see the traffic around you.

The woman walking down the sidewalk on Brookside, wearing a sleep mask, Monday afternoon was not sleepwalking.

State Representative Jeannie McDaniel and Senator Brian Crain strolled nearly a mile with the Tulsa Council of the Blind, to experience what it's like to navigate without eyesight.

"It's a test every time, because the sidewalks don't go straight, there are curbs," said Julie Bailey, with the council of the blind. Street signs and telephone poles and you name it."

Even finding the crosswalk button can be taxing.

White Cane Safety Day is every October 15.

The white cane is symbolic of blindness and a tool of independence.

But traffic is tough for this group.

"Lots of obstacles that you have to deal with and you have to listen for your traffic," said Darla Cook.

Some people don't realize there are laws regarding blind pedestrians.

Drivers must yield to any blind person crossing the street with a cane or service dog.

Drivers must also stay at least 15 feet away.

Overall driver awareness is key, because a simple curve in the sidewalk sent one blind man into the middle of traffic before he realized and corrected himself.

"Just the idea of not being able to see where you place your foot, and then realizing people run races like this, they carry on their everyday life like this. This was very insightful to me," said Representative Jeannie McDaniel.

The VA medical center in Muskogee is hosting several presentations for blind and visually impaired veterans Friday, starting at 9 a.m., to talk about things like safety in the home, financial health, and retirement.