It has been revealed that over 70 per cent of Australian white cane users are put in danger by 'everyday' objects.*
Common objects like cars parked across driveways, bins left out on footpaths, dumped bikes or scooters, and even people being distracted by mobile devices can impact the freedom and independence of people with low vision or blindness.
On International White Cane Day (October15), Guide Dogs Australia focused on how everyone could take simple steps to create a safer and more accessible environment for all, especially as communities re-open after extended periods of COVID-19 lockdowns.
Our 'Keep Clear and Carry On' campaign highlights the very real impact these 'everyday' objects can have on people living with low vision and blindness - causing them to feel anxious, unsafe and in danger when travelling. This can add to someone's travel time, change daily routines or even cause some people to withdraw from going about day-to-day life.
Everyone has been doing a fantastic job to support one another during the pandemic, including our more vulnerable communities. However, our clients tell us there are still some simple ways we can make our streets more accessible for people with low vision or blindness.
Move your bin off the footpath, don't dump bikes and scooters in public spaces, pop your café chair back under the table before you move off, look up from your mobile phone while you're out and about or call your local council to report issues such as unsafe footpaths or fallen or overgrown branches.
White canes are designed to maximise independence and mobility, so this year we want to bring to light the barriers preventing this and raise awareness, so white cane users can carry on with reaching their independent goals.
Top Tips for keeping the streets neat:
Dale Cleaver, CEO at Guide Dogs NSW/ACT
It is very disturbing for many within the local community to witness the recent sale of public land in Dalmeny. Given the speed of this whole process, Greens councillor Pat McGinlay arranged at very short notice, an initial community meeting. In spite of many submissions to council opposing the sale, I witnessed in the council meeting as it was deemed appropriate to hurry the proposed sale through. Why could this important decision not wait till the new council is elected and give it the time needed for thorough investigations relating to community needs, infrastructure capacity, Indigenous people's opinion, and environmental impact? This 'midnight hour' sale represents council's focus on profit, not community. Yes, our shire needs more housing - but what type of housing? Our shire needs affordable housing. Affordable housing for local families. And for this our shire requires a full land-use and housing strategy - one that enables communities to thrive, one that respects its Indigenous people's special places, one that ensures services are available and adequate, a strategy that includes taking responsibility for preparing its shire for continuing climate crises. We look forward to a future council with a genuine commitment to the well-being of all its residents. Not profit. Community.
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