The Humanitarian Affairs Minister, Sadiya Farouq has disclosed that the Federal Government at the forefront of bringing technological modifications to the conventional white canes through local production for the virtually impaired in the country.
She disclosed this at the Ministerial Press Briefing to mark the commemoration of the 2020 White Cane Safety Awareness Day in Abuja.
‘Globally, this day is being recognized to raise public awareness and sensitization on the importance of the White Cane and the plight of millions of visually impaired/blind persons in the world.
“The theme for this year’s celebration is: “Promoting Independence and Productivity”.
“Activities for this day usually include; press briefing like this one; distribution of White Canes to some blind/visually impaired Nigerians, demonstrations on how to use the Cane; talks and rallies or road-shows etc, but for the COVID-19 pandemic which is making the day to be marked with only the Press Briefing,” she said.
Farouq explained that the White Cane is a silver-coated metallic white cane that is used by visually impaired to guide them in moving around.
According to her, since the invention of the White Cane, it is has become a significant instrument to the blind persons, as well as an internationally recognized symbol that elicits help whenever and wherever their users find it difficult to move freely.
“It alerts drivers and motorists that visually impaired persons are on the road. White Cane is also a device that detects obstacles in the path of the Blind.
“In recent years, to demonstrate the commitment of Government towards protecting the rights of People With Disabilities (PWDs) and the Blind or visually impaired persons, the discrimination against Persons With Disabilities (prohibition) Act was signed, and Council Members as well as an Executive Secretary for the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities were appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari now awaiting confirmation.
“We look forward to modern White Cane with sensors and alarms as well as other features that will help the blind and visually impaired live more independently,” The Minister said.
Earlier, the Director of Special Needs Mrs. Nkechi Onwukwe representing the Permanent Secretary Bashir Nura Alkali, said the aim of the briefing is to create awareness on the importance of the white cane.
“The aim of the press briefing is to raise awareness on the significance as well as the importance of White Cane both as a mobility tool and symbol for the blind and the visually impaired, to appreciate all partners and stakeholders support and collaborations.
“And also enlarge advocacy and public enlightenment on issues around white cane, the blind and visually impaired in particular and persons with disabilities in general,” she said.