Society shows people what it’s like to be blind

Society for the Blind used World Sight Day on Thursday October 12 to demonstrate what obstacles blind people faced daily.

There are none so blind as those who will not see, says the proverb, and, as blind people proved last week in Salt River, sight can make us blind to the hardships of those without it.

The Society for the Blind used blindfolds on World Sight Day, Thursday October 12, to open the eyes of the public to just how difficult it can be to get around in a city built for the able-bodied.

Members of the society gathered outside its office in Salt River, and, with marshals and white canes, they set off down Main Road to demonstrate the hazards they face simply going for a walk.

Along the way, Golden Dzapas, a Society for the Blind orientation mobility specialist, blindfolded passers-by so they could experience what it was like to live in darkness.

Many, such as Woodstock resident Roshan Gabier, were too scared to move with the blindfold on and had to put their faith in Mr Dzapas to guide them and keep them from stumbling.

“If I became blind today, I don’t think I’ll be able to help myself,” said Mr Gabier. “It makes you appreciate your sight much more.”

Babalwa Qampi said being blindfolded made her feel sorry for the blind as many motorists parked their cars on the pavement without giving a second thought to how that might make life difficult for a blind person.

Blind awareness officer Sedick Jordan used a loudspeaker to describe each obstacle along the road – broken paving, open drains, advertising boards were just some of them. But the biggest impediment to the blind, he said, wasn’t out on the road. “The main thing stopping blind people from becoming fully independent is the attitudes and behaviour of people. There is a lack of knowledge and communication from their side to ours.

“Now the other day, there was a truck parked on the pavement outside and a blind person crossing the road to come to us walked into it and had a gash on his eye.

“Sometimes drivers drive on their canes, they say sorry, but a new cane costs R400.”

Thomas George, who is legally blind, told of his daily struggle to get to the society’s offices.

“I take a taxi from Manenberg to the association every morning, avoiding gun shootings and the taxi rank. I came here one time and fell into a hole in the road. I was hurt, but the lady I was with was bruised badly. If cars park on the pavement, we can’t find our
way.

“In Manenberg, I have to walk in the road and I wear a green bib so that people can see me. I can’t walk on the pavement because the drain covers are all off. There is also no buzzer at the pedestrian crossing when going to Shoprite, so I don’t know when to cross.”

Mr Jordan appealed to everyone to be mindful of the blind and obey the rules of the road because ignoring pedestrian crossings or parking on pavements could have fatal consequences.

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