Tag: accessibility in community

Municipal Advocacy: Disability Commissions

town building
Town Building

Approximately 150 cities and towns in Massachusetts have a Commission on Disability, does yours?

Disability Commissions are an advisory boards appointed by municipal leaders formed to help promote compliance with federal and state laws, represent the interest of individuals with disabilities in municipal government, and act as a resources for individuals with disabilities.

Common issues addressed by many Disability Commissions include handicapped parking spot abuse and implementing curb-cuts on sidewalks, but each commission is able to respond to the local needs of their community.

Almost all Commissioners are volunteers, and at least half of the members of each Commission are individuals with disabilities. Most Commissions meet monthly, and meetings are open to the public.

I encourage you to find out if your city or town has a Disability Commission, and if they do, make a point to attend the next Commission meeting.

View a list of Disability Commissions in Massachusetts available from the The Massachusetts Office on Disability web site

White Cane Law Promotes Safety and Independence

This month we are pleased to introduce Meg Robertson, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist from the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind.

Have you heard about the White Cane Law?

Massachusetts, along with the rest of the country, has a White Cane Law. The Massachusetts White Cane Law states that all motorists, when they see a pedestrian using a guide dog or a white cane at a street crossing, must come to a complete stop.

The Orientation and Mobility Department at the Mass. Commission for the Blind is working to raise public awareness of the White Cane Law. To learn more come and celebrate International White Cane Day at the State House on Friday October 14, from 10-noon.

A symbol of independence

The white cane is a mobility device used by individuals who are legally blind to navigate safely around their communities. It is a symbol of independence, since anyone who is using a white cane is asserting their independence over blindness by continuing to travel within their communities.

There are different types of white canes used by individuals who are legally blind.
Cane choices depend on the individual’s vision impairment, age, height, gait, etc. The main types of white canes are a support cane type, and/or a long thin cane, which are white with red at the bottom of the cane.

Mobility devices offer a choice in support

Individuals who are legally blind but still have functional vision may use the support type cane to alert motorists that the pedestrian is legally blind. These canes can also assist with depth perception on stairs or curbs.

The more common used mobility device is a long white cane. This cane is used for independent travel and to avoid obstacles

Specialized training is needed for both types of canes as well as travel skills. This specialized training is provided by a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS). All individuals who need a white cane, should be evaluated by a COMS to be sure they get the correct cane and proper training.

A small percentage of people who are legally blind choose a guide dog as a different type of mobility device. Either way, all should receive Orientation & Mobility training with a long cane and street crossing skills before acceptance by a dog guide school. The White Cane Law applies to guide dog users as well.

For more information on white cane training or blindness, contact the Orientation and Mobility Department at the Commission for the Blind www.state.ma.us/mcb or 800-392-6450 x 626-7581 (Voice) or 800-393-6556/TTY.