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15 October - International "White Cane Day"

International Day of the Blind

On 15 October this year, the Macedonian Union of Blind People marked the International "White Cane Day" in its offices in Skopje, under the motto "You will find the light through education and work."

15 October has been marked as the "White Cane Day" since 1964. On the initiative of many associations for rehabilitation in America, in 1964, the Congress authorized the president Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim this day the White Cane Day and celebrate it throughout the world. The white Cane was introduced as a symbol of blindness in 1921 in order to alleviate the movement of the blind between the cars, although it had existed as a symbol of blindness as early as in the ancient times. The car traffic increases every year, which means that the blind people face more and more difficulties in their individual movement, Therefore, the white Cane's role increases as well and it certainly has to be transformed into a clear symbol.

“In the past, "The White Cane Day" used to be marked with cultural performances, but now, it gained a completely different dimensions. Instead of celebrating it with joy, this day is marked with seeking rights for the blind with the state institutions. The blind people raise their voices and refer to the various institutions more and more", said Cedomir Sopkic, member of the Association.

He continued further: "The Macedonian Constitution provides equality for everyone - in the political, economic and social sense, and it also provides special protection for the disabled, that is, that they have a right of a decent life. However, we see this provisions more like a formula for developing cultural human relations that overcome the everyday practice and as means of accomplishing better understanding of the values of life. The ways in which a blind person is treated on the street, at school, etc., illustrate the capability of a certain society to realize the integration of the blind in a planned manner." Krum Mitkovski, who is also member of the Macedonian Union of Blind People, added: "There are very few, almost no blind people employed. The employees avoid employing such people, and those few blind people who are employed, don't get their salaries. Therefore, I send my appeal to the Government and the Inter-parliament lobby-group representatives, who are present here today with us, to support the interventions in the proposal-law for employment, where these questions will be regulated better."

Many domestic and foreign NGOs, representatives from the government, governmental institutions and the business-sector, as well as many citizens, attended the marking of this day. In the end, the Union awarded several organizations institutions and citizens with certificates of gratitude for their long-term cooperation with the Union.

Daniel Medaroski

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