The month of October brings the arrival of crisp autumn days, leaves changing to brilliant hues of different colors, Daylight Savings and of course Halloween. However, did you know that the month of October is also Blindness Awareness month?
Well, to my surprise it is. The funny thing is that I’m blind and I didn’t know that such an event existed. Therefore, I decided to do a little research to find out just exactly what Blindness Awareness month is all about.
The first thing I discovered about Blindness Awareness month is that a global event called World Sight Day takes place the second Thursday each October. This year, this event will take place on Thursday, October 11, 2012.
The World Health Organization (WHO), which is the UN’s directing and coordinating
Authority for health, and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness
(IAPB) along with other organizations around the world promote the importance of good eye care by providing resources to individuals in third world countries who are blind and visually impaired. These organizations also attempt to raise public awareness about blindness through different activities and events.
In the United States, Lions Clubs throughout the country help promote awareness about not only being blind but also other blindness related topics by celebrating National White Cane Safety Day. White Cane Safety Day will take place on Monday, October 15, 2012. What I did not know is that on October 15, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson, signed the first White Cane Safety Day proclamation.
The goal of all Lions Club members, especially on this important day is to advocate and educate the public about the blind and visually impaired. Various clubs hold different events such as eye screenings for school age children, advocate local government for “beeping” traffic lights or other safety enhancements and I know that we are all familiar with Lions Club members asking for donations and handing out replicas of little white canes.
Child Sight is another program that takes place not only during the month of October but year round. In 1994, Helen Keller International began a program called Child Sight in New York. This program provides prescription eyeglasses, free on-site eye screenings and referrals for further care to poverty stricken children in the United States.
Since its conception, Child Sight has screened nearly 1.5 million students and provided nearly 206,000 free eyeglasses. Currently Child Sight provides these services in the following states: California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Ohio.
Today, the leading causes of blindness or visual impairment is caused by Cataracts, age related Macular Degeneration, Glaucoma and other retinal diseases such as Retinitis Pigmentosa. Awareness about blindness or being visually impaired is very important for the loss of sight is something that most people fear the most, especially the older they become.
As I mentioned in the opening of this post, I was completely surprised to find out that there is a month set aside for the awareness of being blind. We, as blind individuals, have the ability and the opportunity to make everyone around us aware that it is quite all right to be blind.
Are there any other people out there who were not aware that October is Blindness Awareness month? Let me know by leaving me a comment below.