Open­ing our minds to the blind

Cape Times - - NEWS - Do­minic Adri­aanse do­minic.adri­aanse@inl.co.za

THE CAPE Town So­ci­ety for the Blind (CTSB) com­mem­o­rated In­ter­na­tional White Cane Safety Day and cel­e­brated this tool of in­de­pen­dence for the blind or vis­ually im­paired with a walk in Main Road, Salt River, to help spread aware­ness.

Cel­e­brated on Oc­to­ber 15 of each year since 1964, white cane day was com­bined by the so­ci­ety with World Sight Day yes­ter­day.

About 70 peo­ple, in­clud­ing staff, vol­un­teers and mem­bers, joined the walk to busy pop­u­lated set­tings like stores, phar­ma­cies and banks.

Pen­sioner Moega­mat Wil­liams joined the walk after hear­ing about it on the ra­dio. “I came to sup­port the cause but also to ex­pe­ri­ence what it feels like for our blind and vis­ually im­paired so­ci­ety mem­bers.

“The mar­shal guided me at first and that was scary but then I was given the cane and a short tu­to­rial.

“He left me on my own for a few steps at a time. I have never felt so help­less or the ground so un­even and I even walked into a few poles,” said Wil­liams.

He said while he had re­ceived only a brief in­sight into the every­day life of the vis­ually im­paired and blind, he be­lieved so­ci­ety had a role to play in mak­ing these peo­ple feel more in­cluded and safe.

The mem­bers walked from the so­ci­ety’s cen­tre in Salt River to Main Road through traf­fic and in­formed pedes­tri­ans, mo­torists and busi­nesses of the chal­lenges faced by the blind as they tra­versed the streets.

Ly­dia Baker from Ruyterwacht said she had started los­ing her eye­sight in the early 1990s, be­ing di­ag­nosed with Re­tini­tis pig­men­tosa (an in­her­ited, de­gen­er­a­tive eye dis­ease), and now has 2% eye­sight.

“It took a while to ad­just and then walk­ing with the cane is a chal­lenge and look­ing at me, peo­ple don’t al­ways un­der­stand be­cause I also don’t look blind,” said Baker.

CTSB ori­en­ta­tion and mo­bil­ity spe­cial­ist Golden Dza­pasi said so­ci­ety had to be more at­ten­tive and help the vis­ually im­paired and the blind.

He said some­thing the sighted took for granted, sim­ply walk­ing down the street, could be scary and the cane as a tool did not help with sud­den in­ci­dents.

CTSB aware­ness of­fi­cer Sedik Jor­dan said the cane gave the blind in­de­pen­dence and that’s what they wanted peo­ple to take away from the walk.

Pic­ture: Phando Jikelo/ANA

IN­DE­PEN­DENCE: About 70 peo­ple from the Cape So­ci­ety for the Blind cel­e­brated the tool of in­de­pen­dence for the blind or vis­ually im­paired yes­ter­day, com­mem­o­rat­ing White Cane Safety Day with a walk in Main Road, Salt River. Tak­ing the lead in the walk is De­brah Otto, with Mncedi Zwane on her right.

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