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Melbourne Museum

Cane - Bamboo, Painted White, circa 1940s-1960s Object Reg. No: SH 961548

Alternative Name(s): Walking Stick

Bamboo cane painted white, circa 1940s-1960s. White painted canes have long been used to increase the mobility and independence of visually impaired people. This is an example, where an ordinary cane, commercially produced, has been adapted and painted white.

The use of white canes as a means of identifying and aiding those with a visual impairment became popular in the 1930s. After presiding over the inquest of a visually impaired man who was hit by a truck in 1933 Melbourne city coroner, Mr D. Grant, suggested that to prevent accidents of the kind, blind or partially blind men should carry white walking-sticks to distinguish themselves from those who could see.

The idea was initially opposed by visually impaired Victorians under the care of the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind and the Association for the Advancement of the Blind. Despite the opposition to the proposal, the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria offered to supply, via the RVBI, white walking-sticks to as many blind persons needed them.
Cane made from length of bamboo with one end curved to form a handle. The length of the cane has been painted white, although much of the paint has now worn off.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind (RVIB), 1996
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 1280 mm (Height), 120 mm (Width), 30 mm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: identifications, walking sticks, disability organisations, visual impairment
Themes this item is part of: Medicine in Society Collection, Public Life & Institutions Collection
On Display at: Melbourne Museum
Primary Classification: MEDICINE & HEALTH
Secondary Classification: Health Organisations
Tertiary Classification: special needs equipment
Place & Date Used: Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind (RVIB), Prahran, Victoria, Australia, circa 1940s-1980s

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