International White Cane Day 2015
Could you get to work with your eyes closed?
Could you get dressed in the morning, make breakfast, walk to the bus stop and get off at the right stop before heading to the office all with your eyes closed?
These are tasks that about 300,000 Australians who are blind or vision impaired undertake confidently and capably each day.
Knowing the best route to walk to the train or bus, how to safely board public transport and understanding the office layout are some of the orientation and mobility skills taught for free by instructors from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.
On International White Cane Day, Thursday, October 15, Guide Dogs is calling on the community to consider, 'Could you get to work with your eyes closed?'
Guide Dogs is launching a new television Community Service Announcement and an online video on the day, and members of the public will be invited to participate in supervised blindfold challenges in the city and Parramatta.
"The ability for those who are blind or vision impaired to move safely around their community, when and how they want to, is an essential element of a person's confidence and social inclusion," said Dr Graeme White, CEO Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.
"Thanks to mobility aids like the long cane and the latest electronic devices, with training from Guide Dogs, people with impaired vision are able to travel confidently to, from and around their workplaces."
For James Pittar, who is blind, a Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Orientation & Mobility Instructor has helped him learn the route to his relocated office. "I have gone from working in a fairly quiet part of the city to catching a bus and a train to work and having to cross six lanes at Goulburn and George streets," he said. "Guide Dogs has been fantastic in helping me orientate from a fairly easy route to a much busier one."
Over coming months, Mr Pittar will learn another new way to his workplace with the support of Guide Dogs when George Street is closed for construction work on the light rail. "I will also be provided with orientation services when the floor that I work on is reconfigured," he said.
Last year, Guide Dogs' Orientation and Mobility Instructors worked with almost 4,000 people of all ages across NSW and the ACT to help them achieve their mobility goals.
Statistics show that every day 28 Australians are diagnosed with vision loss that cannot be corrected. "With our ageing population the work of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT will touch the lives of so many more as they seek support to build their confidence, mobility and independence," Dr White said.
To view the International White Cane Day video or for more information about the services offered by Guide Dogs visit www.guidedogs.com.au.
How the community can help:
- Keep footpaths clear of obstacles such as rubbish bins
- Ensure café and restaurant tables are placed away from the building line
- Trim overhanging branches
- Do not park cars over footpaths
- Be aware of cane users when sharing the footpath
- Report all hazards to your local council