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 (15 October), Guide Dogs Australia is focusing on how everyone can 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.
Dale Cleaver is CEO at Guide Dogs NSW/ACT
*Guide Dogs Australia International White Cane Day Survey 2021.