Celebrating the independence that the white cane brings to the visually impaired
THE League of Friends of the Blind (Lofob) will use the International White Cane Safety Day on October 15 to celebrate the power of freedom and independence it brings to the lives of millions of blind and visually impaired persons across the world.
The organisation said the white cane is recognised as the international symbol of independence, a sign of autonomy and respect for the inherent dignity for the blind and visually impaired, which was in line with Article 3 of the principles enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
Lofob executive director Dr Armand Bam said: “For decades the access to orientation and mobility training and services has been constricted and controlled. It was controlled by those who benefited from the unevenness of our country’s historical past. Today and to our understanding, there are just over 50 qualified orientation and mobility instructors nationally. We are proud to say that the time of restricted services has come to an end.”
Lofob Orientation and Mobility training academy programme manager Heidi Volkwijn said: “We are calling on the South African government, corporates and community members to make funding available for indigent blind persons to have access to white canes, and for the much-needed orientation and mobility training that is coupled with it.”
About 388 000 South Africans are blind and over 1 000 000 individuals have severely low vision, according to the World Health Organisation.
Lofob said that in South Africa the prevalence of blindness and visual impairment is the highest of all disabilities, ranking at 32%.
“This dire statistic and fact prompted Lofob to launch its Orientation and Mobility academy to address the shortage of trained practitioners in the field. Trainees in our programme are trained to teach orientation and mobility, Braille, skills of daily living, coping with low vision etc, which are essential skills required for independent living,” said Lofob.
For more information on how to sponsor a blind person with a white cane and training, or to fund a Orientation and Mobility student through the Lofob Training Academy, contact Lofob on 021 705 3753 or visit website: http://lofob.org.za/news/academy