World White Cane Day - 15th October, 2021

By Fareed Ibrahim Gonbilla
Press Release World White Cane Day - 15th October, 2021
OCT 17, 2021 LISTEN

There are over 2.2 billion visually impaired individuals globally, for whom the white cane represents far more than just a cane. It is a simple of confidence and independence, one that inspires many blind people to move from one location to another with little or no sighted help. Today, 15th October, 2021 marks the annual commemoration of White cane day observed around the world.

Canes, as inconspicuous and unremarkable instruments for blind mobility have been around for centuries, but never really served as true aids to the blind until the early 1920s when the White cane emerged. The canes before the 1920s were largely unnoticed because they had no easily identifiable colors or markings. As automobiles were emerging around this period, it became necessary to develop a mechanism for drivers to easily identify blind people walking on the street. A solution was thus devised in the form of painting the existing canes white and fitting them with red handles. Even though this proved very useful to blind people in America and France in particular, it would take till 1964 for American president, Lyndon B. Johnson, to formally mark 15th of October as the official day for celebrating the white cane.

On the occasion of this momentous celebration in Ghana, the Center for Inclusive Advocacy, an organization established to champion the rights of blind people in Ghana, adds to the general clarion call for increased awareness of the immense significance of the white cane by the public, particularly within the Ghanaian society. It is a common practice for drivers in advanced countries such as the US and UK to give blind rode users a rite of passage upon sighting the white cane. In Ghana however, many drivers and pedestrians alike are mostly ignorant of what the cane represents, even when they clearly see these

canes in the hands of the visually impaired. They hence act indifferent towards the blind, making it difficult for the visually impaired in Ghana to navigate with the ease, confidence and independence of their counterparts in the UK and US for example.

We thus take today’s celebration as an opportunity to make the Ghanaian public aware that, the White canes held by blind people are instruments of blind

navigation and identity. Drivers are encouraged to look out for people holding white canes in order to stop so these blind people could pass. Pedestrians

are similarly encouraged to watch out for individuals holding these white canes and offer them sighted help where necessary.

Any country can only truly develop when all her citizens are treated with utmost respect and care, and provided the needed basic supports to live a decent life. People with visual impairment in Ghana deserve to be able to move around on their own without fearing the possibility of being knocked down by ignorant or indifferent drivers. We all, individually and collectively can help make Ghana a safe haven for blind people only seeking the freedom to independently navigate and explore our beautiful country.

Dear Ghana, Know what the white canes represent and please, respect them.

Written by Fareed Ibrahim Gonbilla

Center for Inclusive Advocacy-Ghana

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