I was prompted by a reader to get back on the horse and write something current for this blog – thanks Robert! Here’s some great news…
The Checkered Eye Project (CEP) is now officially registered as a Not For Profit Corporation. This means we can potentially qualify for grants, will have better chances of receiving monetary support from the private sector, and, this is my favorite, we are now permitted to do raffles!
Current plans involve trying it out by doing a local raffle so that the municipality can issue our permit. This is less complicated than going through the provincial alcohol and gaming commission, as you can imagine.
The funds generated by raffles, grants, and public sector support will allow us to create and publicize more and better educational materials, and as we learned about this year, cover the costs of our new administrative requirements.
More good news:
During the pandemic I took advantage of the opportunity to do meetings by zoom, and conferred with some members of the advocacy department of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, in developing some educational material specifically about the different types of white canes.
A first draft was sent out for feedback, and we plan to begin distribution of the latest version in October. Stay tuned!
So, after pretty much remaining dormant since the beginning of all the shut downs, the CEP is restarting public awareness efforts.
You could give us a boost by going to the video page and sharing something from there – every bit helps!
Years ago, there was a public service announcement on tv. It was put out by an agency that provides services to blind people. I believe it was inspired by my requests for them to help with the awareness effort for the checkered eye symbol for low vision. One of their reasons for not helping was that there is a symbol for blindness already; the white cane. I acknowledged that and told them that I use one myself but that it’s not always the best option to communicate my blindness. Few people understand that white canes may be used by people with many levels of blindness, not just completely blind people, so while improving understanding of the cane, let’s also inform people about the wearable blindness symbol, the checkered eye. They declined to help with checkered eye awareness but came up with a series of PSAs to inform people that “not all people who look blind are completely blind”.
In one of the spots, a young boy waves his hands mockingly in front of the face of a man carrying a white cane.
Here’s my fantasy of what I’d do if a kid did that to me.
Description: I, a slightly smaller than average adult female, walk up to an intersection where two young men are leaning on the stop sign. I am carrying my white ID cane and I stop. One of the young men elbows his friend as if to say “watch this” then gets all up in my face waving his hands around.
I give him a swift left hook and he lands face down on the ground.
YOU’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY! ARE YOU BLIND!
Image description: an angry exasperated emoji face.
There are signs posted everywhere. There are arrows on the floor plainly indicating which way you can go. Footprint stickers show where you can stand. Everyone can see that. Or can they?
No. The simple answer is that not everyone can see the” new rules” signs, lane indicators, and marks to show where you can stand.
Things have changed and things are potentially risky to your health. This ramps up the overall tension so that sometimes the most even-tempered person may respond to another person’s error with exasperation.
For those of us anywhere on the blindness spectrum the experience of going out into society can be more stressful than for that of the average-sighted person. And that was before the COVID-19 complications. Many of us have assistance to manage living with the new procedures, and many do not. If you live independently and do not have access to support, you have to go out and take care of business yourself.
With this in mind, I’d like to remind everyone, and particularly those who work with the public, that there is a spectrum of blindness and both the white cane and the wearable checkered eye symbol indicate that their user is on that spectrum.
To sum up:
- there are new rules posted
- blind people can’t see the signs
- check for the checkered eye, watch for white canes and please have some understanding.