Visually impaired have right to transportation
The NL Association of Optometrists applauds the Human Rights Commission ruling in favour of Anne Malone, who was denied service by a local taxi company in April 2013.
Our association believes respecting the dignity and rights of blind and visually impaired individuals is vital to ensure equality with their fellow citizens. People who are legally blind or partially sighted (low vision) have the right to equal access and should not have to depend on family and friends for ac- cess to transportation.
In NL there are almost 7,000 people who are blind or have vision loss. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in Canada. There are about 1.4 million Canadians living with AMD, many of whom have vision loss or are at risk. Every 12 minutes in Canada, someone develops blindness or vision loss. About 75 per cent of vision loss in Canada is avoidable through prevention and treatment.
Vision loss has the second high- est direct health costs of any disease category in NL – higher than diabetes, all cancers, or cardiovascular disease. There are many proven, cost-effective ways that the financial and human toll of vision loss can be reduced, through prevention, treatment, accommodation and rehabilitation. People with vision loss are at greater risk of social isolation and reduced community participation.
Dr. Mark Smith is president of the NLAO