In October every year, blind and partially sighted persons across the world celebrate White Cane Day. The mission of White Cane Day is to educate the world about blindness and how the blind and visually sighted persons can live and work independently while giving back to their communities. It is also aimed at celebrating the abilities and successes achieved by blind and partially sighted persons worldwide and to honor the many contributions they make to the society.
The white cane is recognized as a symbol of independence, a sign of autonomy and respect for the inherent dignity for the blind and partially sighted persons which is in line with Article 3 of the principles enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The White cane is also in line with the obligations stipulated under Article 9 of the CRPD on accessibility, Article 20 on mobility and sustainable development goal number 11 on accessible cities and human settlements.
On this year’s World Cane Day, October 15, the World Blind Union emphasizes that trainings and awareness campaigns towards the promotion of mobility and orientation using the white cane guarantee autonomy to blind and partially sighted persons to choose places they would like to go to and to participate effectively in their communities. This day helps to create a platform for advocacy to several public and private entities regarding the needs and rights of blind and partially sighted persons.
However, one of the key challenges is that white canes are too expensive and not affordable to most blind persons in developing countries. Even when blind and partially sighted persons have white canes, they continue to face significant barriers during their movements. These barriers include: lack of safe and accessible urban spaces that are user friendly as well as lack of tactile markers that facilitate the use of a white cane.
The World Blind Union is appealing to member states to meet their obligations of the CRPD and the commitments enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is critical that governments allocate budgets and national action plans to include provision of white canes as well as the provision of mobility trainings for blind and partially sighted persons. Governments should also provide adequate resources to facilitate the provision of white canes to blind people at the national level free of charge in the spirit of leave no one behind in order to promote inclusive development.
Our conviction is that a more inclusive, accessible and equal society will lead to better living conditions for our community. We envision a world in which we, as blind or partially sighted people, can participate fully in any aspect of life we choose.
The World Blind Union (WBU) is the global organization that represents the estimated 253 million people worldwide who are blind or partially sighted. Members consist of organizations of blind people advocating on their own behalf and organizations that serve the blind, in over 190 countries, as well as international organizations working in the field of vision impairment. Visit our website at www.worldblindunion.org.
For further information, please contact:
- Terry Mutuku
- Communications Officer, World Blind Union