October is blindness awareness month! Throughout the month of October, we celebrate the achievements of people who are blind or have visual disabilities.
We also celebrated White Cane Safety Day on October 15th. In the 1930s white canes were developed as a way for visually impaired pedestrians to travel more independently but not everyone recognized the rights or safety of cane users. October 15th was designated as White Cane Safety Day by the United States Congress in 1964. In Utah, white cane safety is protected under State Law 41-6a-1007. This law requires vehicle operators to yield right-of-way to blind pedestrians using a white cane or guiding service animal and designated that white canes can be carried only by blind or mostly blind people.
Utah is proud to offer a remarkable library service to people experiencing blindness, visual, and print disabilities. We are widely known as a national center for braille materials, and contract with 19 states nationwide to circulate braille books. The library also provides full library service to patrons in Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming, distributing audiobooks, magazines, braille, and large print books. In fiscal year 2023, we circulated over 568,000 library items.
The Utah State Library for the blind also contracts with the National Library Service, Library of Congress to manage the Multistate Center West, a warehouse facility that distributes materials and resources to libraries that serve the blind and visually impaired around the country including books, marketing materials, playback equipment and more.
Image Description: A silver ribbon and the words “Blindness Awareness Month October” are superimposed over a black background with a map of the world.