Public Defender's Statement on International White Cane Day

October 15 was initiated as International White Cane Safety Day by the International Federation of the Blind in 1970. Celebration of this day reminds us of the people with different needs that live with us.

Tolerance, equality and inclusion are the main messages of this day.

Equal environment and enjoyment of human rights for the blind and partially sighted people are still serious challenges in Georgia. The necessity for solving a number of issues is on the agenda. The country does not have a rehabilitation center, where the blind and partially sighted persons would be able to acquire/develop necessary skills (space orientation and mobility, use of voice computer programs, Braille shift study, etc.); the state does not provide the blind with voice medical items or eye prosthesis. Although the state program provides for provision of canes to the blind, the process is faulty. No duplication of voice and visual information is provided at public, especially crowded places. Television, electronic and print media cannot meet the standard of availability; blind people have no access to entertainment, information and other types of TV programs, movies. Literature (technical, medical, etc.) is not issued in the adapted form.

The Public Defender monitors the protection of the rights of the abovementioned individuals and develops appropriate recommendations for the relevant agencies. In 2015, the Public Defender addressed the National Communications Commission with a proposal to ensure access to information for persons with disabilities, including the blind. However, the problem is still unsolved.

Accessible services and programs oriented to the needs and abilities of the blind, their employment and support in full and effective participation in the public life are still challenges.

The Public Defender urges the relevant authorities to take certain measures in order to overcome the abovementioned challenges, ensure equal protection of everyone’s rights and in this way to form of an inclusive community in the country.

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