White Cane Week is underway in Montreal and the CIUSSS West-Central Montreal is holding various events to raise public awareness of the challenges faced by those with vision loss or blindness.
Dany Rizk, a rehabilitation specialist at the MAB-Mackay centre in Montreal, says the visually impaired face constant obstacles, such as navigating or trying to access information. And some of their more difficult challenges are those that would be mundane tasks for those with full vision, such as cooking or choosing what clothes to wear.
Yet Rizk, who is also a client at the MAB-Mackay centre, says there is help available to overcome those hurdles. “With rehab, all these challenges could go away.” That’s why places like the MAB-Mackay, which assists those with motor, communication, hearing and vision impairments, are so important, he says.
“They intervene,” he says. They can help identify all these challenges and “find ways to be able to live in a different way.”
Rizk says there is still a lot of work to do when it comes to awareness. He refers to vision loss and blindness as “living with a different ability, rather than a disability.”
“There is a certain perception about people with vision loss out there in the world that is unfortunate,” he says. “History has brought people up to think certain ways — to think that people with visual impairments are not able to do certain things, maybe they’re not able to have a job.”
Events like White Cane Week aim to break the stigma. Some of the activities planned this week include blindfolded yoga and braille bingo.
For more information visit the CIUSS West-Central website.