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The Liberia Christians Association of the Blind has called on the executive branch of government particularly President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for an immediate passage of the “White Cane Act” that seeks to safeguard the rights of blind and visually impaired people to public facilities.

The law when passed into handbill will address the protection of blind ensuring access to public services, thus further enhancing the democratic participation, equal enjoyment of human life, fundamental freedoms and respect for inheritance of dignity which the constitution of Liberia guarantees to all citizens in the democratic process.

In June 2013, the 53rd legislature enacted an Act seeking to defend the rights of the blind or visually impaired to public facilities, as well as to put the long-awaited way chance for the blind to participate in the economy and social life of the state.

Making the call recently on Capitol Hill in Monrovia, the group executive director Beyan Gowbalia Kota affirmed that the agenda of government to achieve public reforms has affected change in the functionaries of government in the areas of healthcare, devolutions of political power and the inclusiveness of Liberian governance system as reflected in the establishment of county service centers, therefore, it must be instrumental in the passage of said Act.

Mr. Kota said he believed that the Act when passed into handbill will be a plus and the greatest legacy of the Ellen Johnson-led government. He stated that the Act reaffirmed their citizenship, quoting section: 2 of the White Cane Act which states that the blind and visually impaired should have and enjoyed the same right as the able body of non-disable persons to the full and free use of the streets, walkways, public buildings and facilities and other public places.

“The development of mechanisms to instill discipline and integrity into the public sector are valued efforts of the Liberian government aimed at promoting transparency and accountability for the practice of good governance and responsible leadership responsive to the needs and aspirations of the citizens. And same must be done for the blind and visually impaired in the nation”, he maintained.

He further explained that the guarantee of social policy that deals with the reduction of poverty must be tailored to transform governance which obligates duty-bearers to protect individual citizen and enable them equal and non-discriminatory access to public goods and services in Liberia.

Kota emphasized that blind people are rights holders; as such they endeavor to share the same public space as shared spaces are designed for people such as footpaths to destinations, adding that developing shared spaces improve economy activities. The law of the land as inscribed in the White Cane Law denounces access to technology and access to the physical environment.

The Act governing the use of the White Cane seeks to address blind rights to participate in economic activities, safeguard the rights of blind to move freely, traffic safeguard protection and others with disabilities in the country.

A public facility if not accessible it will handicap or deny the fundamental rights of persons with disabilities to access those services. Not having access lead to unemployment and disempowerment of the blind. The law of the land as inscribed in the White Cane Law that further enforces the enjoyment of rights by blind people and to improve individuals’ economic status.

By: R. Joyclyn Wea

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