It’s hard to imagine living without one of our five senses to navigate the world. But for many, a life without sight or hearing is a reality they are forced to adapt to.
In honor of International White Cane Safety Day, the Greater Hall County chapter of the Georgia Council for the Blind and the Gainesville Lions Club took to the downtown Gainesville square Saturday, in a show of strength and support. They interacted with the public, handing out fliers detailing how to interact with the visually impaired and the laws that protect their safety.
Dianne Roberts, a member of Georgia Council of the Blind, said the downtown square is exactly the type of safe space the visually impaired need.
“The square is perfect because it’s protected and you don’t have to worry about cars here. The walkways are wonderful!” she said.
Roberts said the Hall County chapter is the largest in Georgia, with more than 40 active members, all with varying degrees of visual impairment and ages ranging in age from 50 to 90. She credits that to growth of Northeast Georgia Medical Center, the growing number of senior communities and increasing numbers of visually impaired elders.
“There are a lot of senior communities growing right here in our area, so you have a lot of elderly people dealing with vision loss from diabetes or age-related macular degeneration. And up until now, people thought that they had to hunt and pick for services, for help and assistance programs. So that’s exactly where we come in,” Roberts said.
A problem, she says, is people with visual impairments slowly become isolated and don’t know where to turn for assistance. That’s why the group strives to provide information on how to receive training to help adapt to their condition and link them with services like transportation and in home help.
“That’s why we are out here today, to remind people who we are and how to help us,” she said.