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14.10.2005 General News

International White Cane Safety Day marked

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Accra, Oct. 14, GNA - Mr. Eleazer Tetteh Plahar, Director of the Ghana Association of the Blind (GAB), on Friday called for financial assistance from all sectors to help the Association run its White Cane Assembling Project.

Mr Plahar explained that the four blind employees of the project, produced 15 white canes a day, some of which were exported to some members in Sudan, the Gambia and Togo, but three of them had to be laid off due to lack of funds.

Mr Plahar, speaking at a programme to mark the International White Cane Safety Day which falls on October 15 each year, said the GAB needed to reactivate the project in order to meet the high demand for white canes nation-wide.

He said the project would also create job opportunities for its members.

The Project was established in 1999 under a funding programme from the International Development Programme (IDP) to produce white canes locally instead of relaying solely on imported ones. Mr Plahar said the GAB had embarked on skill development including ICT training and other leadership training programmes for its members to help integrate them into the society.

"This would empower blind and partially sighted persons in the society to gain confidence and be abreast with the current state of development in the country," he said.

Mr. Plahar said the Association had also embarked on other programmes such as strengthening the capacities of their district branches, empowering women through various programmes such as the assessing a revolving fund for their economic enhancement. He said the GAB was compiling a database on blind and partially sighted persons, which would be used for advocacy and lobbying, programme design and mobilisation of funds.

Mr Yaw Ofori Debra, National President, GAB, stressed the importance of the white cane to the sustenance of blind and partially sighted persons, as it symbolises blindness, provides security and safety for the user, aids movement and promotes independence and confidence for their users.

"This is not to suggest that the white cane is a substitute for sight. It is a mere symbol of blindness and detector of objects ahead of a user and therefore we need human support in several aspects of our lives especially in unfamiliar places," he said.

Mr Debra called on the public, especially drivers, to respect blind and partially sighted persons and regard the raising of the white cane as a signal that a blind person wants to cross roads and therefore assist them.

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