White cane a symbol of independence – Macanawai

United Blind Persons of Fiji members celebrate White Cane Day at Brown St in Suva yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

THE white cane is a powerful symbol of opportunity, freedom and independence for visually impaired people, says Pacific Disability Forum chief executive officer Setareki Macanawai.

He said the event was a significant day for all visually impaired persons in Fiji.

“To us visually impaired people or the blind, the white cane is a powerful symbol of independence because it supports and guides us to places. It makes us productive and opens up a lot of opportunities for us on a daily basis,” Mr Macanawai said during the International White Cane Day in Suva celebrations yesterday.

He said at times, people would not understand the importance of a white cane and regarded the equipment as a nuisance in public places.

“Sometimes the public assumption on white canes can be misleading and there is a need for more awareness on this.

“We also need training for visually impaired people on the usage of white canes because sometimes it is hard for them use it. You can’t just give them a white a cane today and expect them to know how it is used, it takes a lot of training to master a white cane,” Mr Macanawai said.

The white cane is used as a walking instrument for the visually impaired to enable them to move freely and independently and to also detect obstacles in their way.

It was invented in 1930 by Lion George Bonham in the US.

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