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Communities across the world observe White Cane Day on Oct. 15 to recognize the contributions of people with blindness and low vision and to promote equal opportunities. The day was first observed in the U.S. in 1964, when Congress passed a law to increase awareness about the white cane's role in promoting independent, safe travel for people with blindness or low vision.
More than 7.5 million Americans, or 2.4% of the population, are blind or have low vision. Some people are born with blindness or low vision, but most people acquire vision loss, often at older ages. Researchers estimate that the incidence of blindness and low vision will rise rapidly through 2050 as the population ages.
Researchers - Issues - Vision - Society - Institutions
As researchers who study issues related to blindness and low vision, we are interested in how society, its institutions, businesses and individuals currently perceive members of this population and how these perceptions may influence opportunities, particularly in terms of employment.
Since passage of that law 55 years ago, the world we live in has changed drastically. Advances in technology have significantly changed our everyday lives, and much progress in accessibility and inclusivity has occurred. Federal laws that protect people with disabilities from employment discrimination have been passed, and many companies have since adopted inclusive hiring practices.
Assistive - Technology - Readers - Screen - Magnifiers
Assistive technology such as screen readers and screen magnifiers improve access to information and jobs. Built-in accessibility features in mainstream technologies are increasingly common. Accessible transportation options are continually evolving, including ride-hailing services and autonomous vehicles.
These changes and innovations have increased opportunities and reduced some barriers for people who are blind or those who have low vision (for simplicity, we will use the term "blind" going forward).
Thing - People - Lack - Access - Workforce
One thing that has not changed for many people who are blind is lack of access to the workforce. This is true for people with all...
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