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).