White Cane Laws

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Prior to 1967, if you were physically or visual impaired you had no right to walk down a sidewalk in any United States city. If you were walking on the sidewalk using a white cane, had a service dog, were using a wheelchair or crutches and someone hit and injured you, it was considered your fault and you had no legal right to receive coverage by the driver’s insurance, no right to sue them for damages and they couldn’t be charged with a crime. It was your fault you got hurt because you shouldn’t be out in public in the first place.

In 1967, New Mexico became the first state to take a stand against this blatant civil rights infringement when Governor David Cargo signed the first White Cane Law.

“It is the policy of this state to encourage and enable the blind, the visually handicapped and the otherwise physically disabled to participate fully in the social and economic life of the state and to engage in remunerative employment.” (http://www.cfb.state.nm.us/White%20Cane%20Law.html)

This law served as the model for the eventual adoption of white cane laws in each of the 50 states and represents the groundwork for the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).

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Our meeting with the ARC of New Mexico

Andrew and Lisa had the pleasure of meeting with Randy Costales and Doris Husted of the ARC of New Mexico. Doris is a former Joseph P. Kennedy Fellow and is currently the Policy Director for the ARC. Randy came to work for the ARC in the guardianship program during the Jackson Lawsuit  (http://www.jacksoncommunityreview.org). He now serves the organization as the Executive Director. We look forward to the possibility of working closely with the ARC on this project.

Students, New Mexico School for the Deaf, 1893

Courtesy of the Smithsonian online exhibition “EveryBody: An Artifact History of Disability in America.” One of only three photos I have been able to find of any of the 6 institutions once inhabited by New Mexicans with disabilities. Do you … Continue reading