The government has been called upon to assist visually impaired persons with white canes, the Executive Director of Ghana Blind Union (GBU), Dr Peter Obeng-Asamoah, made the call in Accra last Wednesday to mark International White Cane Safety Day.
According to him, there were over 230,000 visually impaired persons in the country yet less than 35-40 per cent had a white cane making movement difficult for the rest.
The International White Cane Safety Day Celebration organised in partnership with Visio International was on the theme “White Cane a tool for social inclusion.”
Dr Obeng-Asamoah said the day was to acknowledge the independence of visually impaired persons and to create the awareness about white cane.
As an important mobility tool, the white cane helps visually impaired persons navigate, control and avoid all physical gadgets and barriers in their way.
Dr Obeng-Asamoah noted that currently, there was no local production for the white canes, therefore importing the canes and purchasing it as high as GH₵80 was expensive for most people.
“Looking at the situation of some visually impaired persons, making ends meet is sometimes difficult, look at our children around, those in schools, the ones in the rural areas and the less privileged, how can they afford it? he questioned.
Dr Obeng-Asamoah further stated that sympathy and stigma were things of the past to them, all they needed was empathy and opportunities to make a difference in the country.
“We are part of the nation and we also deserve same opportunities as everyone to contribute to our development, communities and nation as a whole, if we get the good environment and proper training we can contribute our quota to the nation’s development,” he said.
He advised the general public to have an attitudinal change towards people with disabilities, as people’s attitude in a way prevented them from being properly inclusive in the society.
“Some of such is the stigma, stereotyping, negative social attitude, discrimination and some limitations, all these create barriers to our education, employment and social lives,” he stated.
On her part, the First Vice Chair of GBU, Janet Alamisi Dabire, underscored that more attention be placed on the white canes to ensure the blind and partially sighted persons were availed the opportunity to lead dignified and productive lives.
“Society is constantly reminded of the presence of blind and partially sighted persons especially on our roads, it is crucial the general public appreciate the white cane as a tool for social inclusion,” she said.
BY ANITA ANKRAH