The Executive Director of the Ghana Blind Union (GBU), Dr Peter Obeng Asamoa, has appealed to the government to waive the tax on imported white canes.
He said the tax was preventing the union from importing the canes to serve members who were more than 15,000 in the country.
Dr Asamoa made the appeal at the 2019 White Cane Safety Day which was held in Accra yesterday, where some students of the Akropong School for the Blind and some members of the GBU were present.
The event is set aside by the World Blind Union to create awareness of the significance of the white cane every year.
The GBU has also established a ‘White Cane for All’ project, under which the union plans to provide white canes and associated training on its use to the blind to aid in their mobility.
However, the union is unable to achieve that objective because of the tax on imported white canes.
“The Blind Union has 15,000 registered members and each one of them needs a white cane,” Dr Asamoa said.
Dr Asamoa said the white cane had, over the years, proven to be a reliable guide that served as an identity to the blind.
Additionally, he said, the special walking aid also gave a sense of inclusion as it allowed the blind to be independent in movement.
“For the blind person, the white cane is an essential tool that cannot be done away with”, he said, while urging all blind persons to use the cane at all times and not to feel intimidated.
The director also appealed to companies to come on board to help the union realise its goal of providing white canes to members.
The Vice-President of the GBU, Ms Janet Alamisi Dabire, said it was time the government, corporate institutions and non-governmental organisations came to the aid of the union by supporting the White Cane for All project.
She said a greater percentage of the people who suffered from some form of visual disability required a white cane to aid in their movements.
“If we, as a nation, are looking into a holistic future for our country, it is imperative that we do not leave this group behind. The provision of white canes with the requisite training is the first step towards a meaningful future and ultimately, full inclusion,” Ms Dabire added.
She also entreated the public to change the negative perceptions and attitude towards visually impaired people, saying, some negative behaviours such as not recognising the skills and capabilities of the visually impaired, had led to denying them employment opportunities.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Krachi Nchumuru Constituency, Mr John Majisi, who is an advocate for the promotion of activities for persons with disability, suggested that subsequent events should include people from outside the visually impaired community such as drivers, policy makers, security personnel and heads of educational institutions.
When that was done, he said, it would help create more awareness and increase knowledge about the white cane.
He also said the celebration should be extended to cover other parts of the country.
Two groups, the Bible Society of Ghana and Reflexology Ghana, donated 12 boxes of braille Bibles and two reflexology beds worth GH¢3,000 to the union.