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Demand for thin gloves and white canes as touch becomes risky      

Shillong, June 30: The visually impaired persons have urged the state government to address their plight during Covid by providing thin gloves and white canes among others.

Though a letter was sent by the visually impaired persons under the banner Blind Lead Trust (BLT) on June 15, the government is yet to act on the matter.

Jitendra Dkhar, BLT director, said that the headmen have a role to indentify the differently-abled persons to provide necessary assistance.

Besides, their demand is to provide thin gloves and white canes.

The BLT said that for blind people, the hands serve as eyes. “During this time of Covid-19, the simple act of looking around with their hands puts blind people at much increased risk for contracting the harmful virus. Thin gloves will enable blind people to manage the increased danger.

The BLT also said white canes should be provided to every blind person or those who are more than 50% visually impaired.

“ In this time of Covid-19, these white canes will serve to protect the safety of blind persons in several ways. Other than the typical mobility uses, the white cane provides a means for sighted persons to help guide a blind person without breaking the rules of social distancing”, Dkhar said.

During the pandemic, the members of the public should not be grabbing the arms of blind people in order to guide them, as is the common practice, the BLT said.

“A blind person must be able to move about outside of the home and to accept the usual friendly assistance of neighbours and strangers, without risking infection with coronavirus”, the BLT said.

Regarding masks, the BLT said masks should certainly be provided to all blind and visually impaired people, and all other differently-abled people in the villages.

“Whether masks are given by the Asha, Anganwadi workers or headmen, the differently-abled must be actively targeted for distribution. For blind and visually-impaired people, the masks that attach by loops behind the ears (without tie-strings) are generally more accessible and preferred”, the organisation said.

Other demands of the BLT include supply of antimicrobial soaps for hand washing and sanitisation,

rapid provision of temporary disability authentication documents, assistance to open individual bank accounts and direct payment benefits among others.

Opening a bank account independently, not jointly with a sighted person, prompt reception of ATM/debit cards with proper instruction in its use, access to at least one ATM machine and internet banking are other suggestions.

The BLT also sought help for the children of differently abled persons during corona.

“Blind and other differently-abled children are too often neglected during normal times and many are deprived of the opportunity for basic education. In this time of the Covid-19 pandemic, proper education regarding the coronavirus -the nature of the threat and the methods for protecting oneself and avoiding infection are required,” the BLT added.

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