Int’l Day of the White Cane:
Visually Impaired Strategize To Counteract Challenges
By Peter Tasi
The International Day of the White Cane has been commemorated in Bamenda, North West region with a message for other members of the society such as bike riders, taxi drivers and others to master the use of the white cane by persons with visual impairment.
It is a day set aside every October 15th to celebrate the achievements of persons with visual impairment. In prelude to the commemoration of the White Cane Safety Day, the Hope Social Union for the Visually Impaired through its Secretary General, Nsah Edwin, educated the masses on various radio stations in Bamenda to raise awareness on the importance of the white cane.
Quizzed on how someone can know when to help a visually impaired, Nsah said: “If a person with visual impairment raises the white cane slanted facing the road with the left hand lifted up it simply means he or she wants to cross the highway. When a visually impaired stands with the cane in between the legs and the left hand on the cane and the right hand slanted towards the road, then he or she is trying to board a bike or get a taxi. If you see a visually impaired stands at an akimbo, with the white cane at the side it is a clear indication that he or she is stranded and needs help.”
The president of the Hope Social Union for the visually impaired, Ngong Peter Tonain said the challenges due to the ongoing crisis and the COVID-19 have delved a heavy blow to persons with visual impairment in the North West region since they had no means to go about their usual activities.
“Instead of us sitting and crying in the rain and complaining since most people do not know about us and the white cane, we had to mobilize our resources since we have no sponsorship and come out on this day to educate the public about the white cane and its importance,” Tonain said.
Holding under their umbrella union, the visually impaired used the opportunity to also strategize on how to make their lives better through income generating activities and as well as save their earnings.
The commemoration also witnessed the presentation of school didactics which were offered by the online news portal The Observer237.com to its members who are still school going.
A white cane is an important mobility tool for such people as well as the symbol of their independence. Canes have been used by blind people for centuries, but the white cane was introduced in the early 20th century. Canes were painted white to be more easily visible. The white cane is one of the symbols of a person with visual impairment to have independence as it ensures their ability to come and go on their own in terms of mobility.