Resolution 2011-4 Regarding Enforcement of the Maryland White Cane Law


WHEREAS, Maryland has laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability, yet discrimination against blind persons continues; and

WHEREAS, one of the oldest laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of blindness is the Maryland White Cane Law, Contained in HUMAN SERVICES TITLE 7- INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES, SUBTITLE 7- BLIND, VISUALLY IMPAIRED, DEAF, HARD OF HEARING, AND MOBILITY IMPAIRED INDIVIDUALS of the Annotated Code of Maryland; and

WHEREAS, The White Cane Law makes it a crime for anyone to interfere with a blind person’s right to enjoy equal access to housing and public accommodations, and ensures access to public facilities, streets, sidewalks, and other public places in the State of Maryland; and

WHEREAS, although discrimination against the blind abounds, police and prosecutors have never charged anyone with a violation of the White Cane Law; and

WHEREAS, In June 2011, blind persons were denied entrance into a Baltimore County paint ball establishment because of "safety concerns", a clear interference with the rights provided to blind persons under the White Cane Law, yet the Baltimore County police refused to take action claiming that the denial was a civil offense outside their jurisdiction; and

WHEREAS, Upon the insistence of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, the police did take a report but no further action occurred; and

WHEREAS, this incident is the latest example of many failures to enforce this law; AND

WHEREAS, In Maryland, persons who face discrimination by places of public accommodation cannot seek damages or attorneys' fees in state court and thus there is no consequence for the owners of the paint ball establishment who discriminated against blind persons: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE National Federation of the Blind of Maryland in Convention assembled this Thirtieth Day of October, 2011 in the city of Ocean City, Maryland, that this organization condemn and deplore the lack of enforcement of the Maryland White Cane Law by all levels of government; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association to work with The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland to ensure that every police officer have knowledge of laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability including the Maryland White Cane Law; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, to more effectively execute the intentions behind the White Cane Law, The Maryland General Assembly should enact legislation creating a new statute that will provide a private right of action for recovery of money damages and attorneys' fees in the State's civil courts.