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Visually Impaired Persons Shun White Cane

According to officials, while the white canes are supposed to give persons with visual impairment a level or normalcy, many shun the canes because usage of canes is associated with old people
A girl using a white cane

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Persons with visual impairments in the country do not like using white canes, according to officials from the Uganda National Association of the Blind.

The revelation was made on Wednesday during celebrations to commemorate the National White Cane that took place in Kampala.

The white canes are assistive devices that enables people who are visually impaired to move about. The device enables them to scan their surroundings for obstacles.

Figures from the 2014 National Population Census show that there visually impaired persons account for 4 percent of the country's population. However according to UNAB, less than 30 percent of them have to access to this life changing device.

According to officials, while the white canes are supposed to give persons with visual impairment a level or normalcy, many shun the canes because usage of canes is associated with old people.

Julius Musinguzi, the executive director of UNAB says Instead of using white canes, many visually impaired youth rely on human guides.

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According to Musinguzi, mainly the youth shun the canes because they associate them with age. He says they think only old people should use them.

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While it might not be fashionable for the youths to use the canes, their cost plays a role in their being shunned.  On average a white cane on the open market costs shillings 80,000 and can last for up to ten years or even more. Musinguzi says for some visually impaired persons, the cost of the canes is what makes the difference with having meals for a month or going hungry.

"The canes are very expensive for blind people. Other people might think it is cheap but for persons who are blind, this is too much money because many of them are not employed. Instead of buying a cane, they would rather buy food," he explains.

Sarah Kanyike, the minister of state for disability and elderly, says government has a plan to start procuring white canes for visually impaired persons.

" The ministry plans to procure assistive devices for persons with disabilities. Once procured, we will work with UNAB to ensure equitable distribution of these devices," she said.