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Shared Spaces must be safe

8 November 2017

October 15 marked the White Cane Safety Day, a day to raise public awareness about safety and independence for persons with blindness and partial sight. The white cane is the most common mobility aid used by blind and partially sighted people in the world. It is recognized worldwide as a symbol of freedom, independence, and confidence as it enables a blind person to move about freely and safely.

In celebrating the White Cane Safety Day, the World Blind Union (WBU) drew attention to Shared Spaces, an increasing trend found mainly in town centres where pedestrians, vehicles and cyclists spontaneously share the same space.

The WBU is concerned that Shared Spaces, can cause significant safety hazards for blind and partially sighted persons if designed in an unsuitable way. The WBU has developed a statement on Shared Spaces that outlines key principles and recommendations for governments and city planners to consider when designing and implementing Shared Spaces, to ensure easy access and safety for blind and partially sighted people.

The World Blind Union strongly upholds that blind and partially sighted people should live in a world that is accessible, safe and easy to navigate. To mark White Cane Safety Day, the WBU called on governments, city planners and other stake holders to consult and include blind and partially sighted people in planning, design implementation and monitoring of safe Shared Spaces.

The World Blind Union also called for further research and public awareness on Shared Spaces, which is critical to enhance the safety of pedestrians especially blind and partially sighted people.

Blind SA provides Orientation and Mobility training and through the support of the EDTP SETA we trained 40 blind persons in Ekurhuleni, Mogale City, Johannesburg, Tshwane and Sedibeng. 21 of these persons have been externally moderated and verified by SETA to be competent and the remaining 19 are to be externally moderated and verified during the course of next month.

Blind SA will observe National White Cane Safety day on 27th October at Brits in the North West Province supported by HERNIC Ferrochrome Mine based in Brits under Madibeng municipality.

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