Minister of Social Services and Urban Development Frankie Campbell on Tuesday joined officials of the Bahamas Alliance for the Blind and Visually Impaired (BABVI) and representatives from the community of persons with disabilities in Rawson Square for the joint observance of World Sight Day and White Cane Safety Day.
White Cane Safety Day is set aside annually for October 15 to celebrate the achievements of persons who are blind or visually impaired and to highlight the importance of the white cane as a symbol of blindness and a tool of independence. The white cane has also become a symbol of freedom, independence and confidence, as its use enables users to move about freely in their environment.
“If an individual knows how to use a cane, he/she can accomplish daily tasks with ease,” officials said.
World Sight Day is observed annually on the second Thursday in October and is a global event intended to draw attention to blindness and vision impairment. Established in 2000 by the World Health Organization (WHO), World Sight Day is considered “the most important advocacy day on the eye health calendar”. Both observances were part of the activities commemorating the month of October as Blindness Awareness Month in The Bahamas.
Minister Campbell, who was given a reprieve from the Cabinet meeting to address the session, told the gathering that the government of The Bahamas is working assiduously on putting into force the legislation and policy framework that will further ensure equity and independence for the community, in addition to inclusion for persons with disabilities.
“I was given leave from Cabinet to be able to come here and address you because it is important to the government of The Bahamas for you to know that the community of persons with disabilities, without a shadow of a doubt, has the support of the government,” Campbell said.
“We know you have some areas of concern and we are working to address those. I am pleased to report that we are working assiduously to find persons with a view to increasing the staff complement at the secretariat of the Commission for Persons with Disabilities. You would appreciate that it takes a special kind of person, with a special kind of heart, and as your minister, I want you to know that we are in search of that special kind of person to ensure that there is that level of concern; that level of compassion, and that level of commitment that, when combined with the right level of competency, will ensure that you get the level of service and the attention that you deserve.
“We are also working on putting in place the legislation that will provide you with the equity and independence you seek. We are also aware of the concerns the community of persons with disabilities has expressed in terms of accessing Parliament. I want you to know that as the government considers any modern Parliamentary facility, all of those things will be taken into consideration. I want you to know that you are not alone in the challenges you face and I reassure you that you do have my full support and the full support of the government of The Bahamas.
“Let me further reassure you that our policies are intended to provide you with the greater sense of independence that you seek, while also providing for the inclusion that you need to ensure that you are able to participate at an optimum level.”