President of the Greater Washington, DC Chapter of the NFB to Speak at Annual White Cane Day Event

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Shawn CallawayPresident Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed Oct. 15, 1964 as White Cane Day. This day emphasized the significance of the use of the white cane as a tool and a visible symbol. The Department of Human Services /Orientation and Mobility Program will host White Cane Day on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011. The event will take place at 8:30 a.m. in the K.W. Green Student Center’s Bulldog Lounge. This year’s theme is “Acquiring Life Skills through Rehabilitation, Education and Technology.” Registration is 8:30 a.m. and the general session will begin promptly at 9 a.m.

“White Cane Day is an annual event used to heighten awareness about the lives of individuals who are blind and visually impaired in our communities and the degree of independence they exhibit through rehabilitation and training,” said Shirley B. Madison, director of the Blind Rehabilitation Program. “This year, I expect that attendees will leave the conference with a heightened awareness about how acquiring life skills with adaptations will assist individuals who are blind and visually impaired.” 

According to Madison, the white cane is not just a tool that can be used to achieve independence; it is also a symbol of independence for citizens who are blind in our society. The white cane has given them the freedom to travel independently to their schools and workplaces and to participate more fully in the life of their communities. This event will honor the many achievements of blind and visually impaired Americans and will recognize the white cane's significance in advancing independence. Throughout history, the cane, staff and stick have existed as traveling aids for the blind and visually impaired.

This year’s speaker for White Cane Day will be Shawn M. Callaway, president of the Greater Washington, DC Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). Callaway currently serves as a project officer for the Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Developmental Disabilities. He also serves as a volunteer coordinator for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library Adaptive Services and Technology Blind Teens Program.

In 1991, Callaway was accidentally shot, which caused him to become permanently blind. A year after the incident, Callaway entered the Maryland Rehabilitation Center (MRC) in Baltimore, Md. where he acquired independent living skills. After the completion of the MRC program, he enrolled in Essex Community College in Essex, Md. With an associate’s degree in psychology, he transferred to the University of Maryland, College Park in College Park, Md. where he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology.  In 2000, Callaway earned his Master of Social Work from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

Since 1999, Callaway has actively served as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated. He also serves on the Department of Health and Human Services’ Committee of Employees with Disabilities (CED.) Prior to Callaway’s current positions, he served eight years as a licensed social worker for the DC Department of Mental Health, School Based Mental Health program, where he provided counseling and psycho-educational services to children in the DC public schools. He also served as a case manager for the Catholic Charities Transitional Substance Abuse Program for adult males.

Callaway’s personal mission is to ensure the equal treatment and civil rights of blind citizens of Washington, DC and to empower disadvantaged blind youth with a solid foundation of life and social skills that will afford them the ability to self advocate in today’s society. Callaway resides in Washington, DC with his wife of six years, Latonya Callaway.  

To register for the annual White Cane Day event, complete the attached registration form. The registration fee for SC State University faculty, staff and the external community is $20.  The registration fee for students and consumers who are blind and visually impaired is $10. A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided during the event.

For additional information about the annual White Cane Day event, contact Shirley Madison at (803)533-3956 or via email at