Visu­ally im­paired have right to trans­porta­tion

The Compass - - EDITORIAL -

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

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