Florida Association of Agencies Serving the Blind, (FAASB)
Florida Council of the Blind, (FCB)
National Federation of the Blind of Florida, (NFBF)
White cane laws have protected the rights of pedestrians who are blind or have mobility impairments for many years. However, in Florida as in other states, many drivers have no idea of what the White Cane Law is or what it says. In addition, there is virtually no effort being made to maintain records of incidents involving people with disabilities. People with disabilities have the right to assume that laws that are on the books are being enforced and are understood. However, this is simply not the case. Florida's White Cane Law is actually found in two places. S. 316.1301 covers pedestrians who are blind. S. 316.1303 cover pedestrians who have mobility impairments.
In Florida, Representative Dwayne Taylor and Senator Evelyn Lynn have introduced a bill known as House Bill 405 and Senate Bill 1192 which aims to correct some of the shortcomings just described. Here are the things the bill does. First, there will now be a requirement that incidents involving people with disabilities be reported to a state agency and that records be kept on all crimes involving people with disabilities so that it will be possible to know just how often such people are involved in incidents. Second, the bill would require that everyone seeking a driver's license would have to answer a question relating to the White Cane Law. Third, driver's education programs including those taught in high school must include information about the white cane law. Fourth, training for police must now include education on the rights of pedestrians who are disabled. The law is scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2012.
We believe that passage of this bill will make a huge difference for people who are blind or otherwise disabled in Florida. At last, people who seek driver's licenses will be required to know about the law and we will be able to know just how often it is broken. When police know about the law, they will be more likely to enforce it. People who are blind cannot see the people who are breaking the law. It is up to the police to enforce the law. We urge all our members to work to see this simple but important bill is adopted.
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