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WCB TomPeraltaGlaucoma, “the sneak thief of sight” took the vision in Tom Peralta’s right eye about seven years ago.  “I went to bed one night with vision in that eye and the next morning, it was gone.”  More recently, he lost most of the vision in his left eye.  After many doctor visits and tests, medical professionals don’t know exactly what caused this, but they suggested that it might be due to a series of strokes Tom suffered. 

“My depth perception was not good, so I knew it was time for a white cane.”  Tom received a white cane and orientation and mobility training from the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired.  He later spent three months at the Hines Blind Rehabilitation Center in Illinois to build on what he first learned.  Equipped with a white cane and mobility instruction, Tom can better negotiate the streets of Richland Center, where he lives.  “This is an old town, and some sidewalks are breaking up or buckling.  Having a white cane has prevented a lot of injuries, and it orients me to my surroundings.  I have a better idea of what’s coming up.”

Like other white cane users, Tom is concerned that drivers are often inattentive to him. “Bus drivers and truckers stop and allow me to cross a street, but not most other drivers.  People need to be educated about the White Cane Law.” 

As White Cane Safety Day, October 15, approaches, Tom plans to share information with officials in Richland Center.  This includes Governor Walker’s White Cane Safety Day 2013 proclamation and a letter that Loretta Himmelsbach, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired, sent to mayors of major cities in Wisconsin, encouraging them to promote this observance in their community.

Please consider doing something in your community to help raise awareness of pedestrian safety and this legislation.