International White Cane Day
The White Cane Day is celebrated on October 15 around the world. This day is a symbolic expression of the transition of blind and partially sighted people to independent life and recognition of their full inclusion in the society. The goal of the White Cane Day is to raise awareness of blindness and to celebrate the contribution made by blind people to the development of the society.
Despite the symbolic idea and practical importance of the white cane, no individual needs-based white cane is provided for blind and partially sighted people under the state programme. They are not provided with opportunities to develop skills for space orientation and mobility, use of the white cane, voice computer programmes, Braille, etc. The services of a qualified assistant are still inaccessible to the blind at the central level, whereas the above is one of the main components of promoting their independent life.
Access to physical environment and quality information remains problematic for blind and partially sighted people, which became particularly evident in the context of the restrictions relating to the prevention of the novel coronavirus in the country. Blind people were virtually unable to move around independently or receive the information they needed. The blind persons living alone found themselves in a particularly vulnerable situation, as they encountered problems in meeting their daily needs safely.
In addition to a number of problems with access to and quality of remote education in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, it is problematic for blind people involved in inclusive education to use the applicable learning platform (Microsoft teams) independently, which creates problems both in secondary and higher education.
Ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections, the Public Defender pays special attention to the realization of the right of blind people to vote and calls on the Central Election Commission of Georgia to take all necessary measures to ensure the participation of the blind in the elections independently, including by enabling them to vote by using the relevant framework.