Equality Rights group GGR - Citizenship in Democracy EQUALITY RIGHTS GGR

News and Information from Gibraltar on Equality, Human, Gay and Social Rights

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Our concern for the blind

Equality Rights Group GGR has today expressed concern regarding basic support for blind and visually-impaired people in Gibraltar, who, it says ‘comprises according to our understanding of 49 officially registered and 5 enrolled persons making a total of 54 with possibly up to 26 further unregistered persons bringing the total in Gibraltar to an approximate 80.”

“We have for many years spoken about the poor support given to the disabled in our community, and this has received a measure of public focus though with inadequate attention by Government. In the midst of this general awareness, and to a degree, the blind appear to be a largely disattended group. GGR has recently been shocked to be advised by Mr Albert Cano, who is a Gibraltarian and registered blind since 1979, that despite a long-standing battle with increasing visual impairment, he is still receiving no training in the use of a walking stick or indeed in the use of Braille. Mr Cano some time back was hurt by a car in an accident which, he feels, would have been avoided had he had the use of a walking stick to guide his way. Even if this problem were limited to just one affected person, in our view this would still be one person too many! Whilst we very much hope that this situation will soon be put right by the relevant authorities and those concerned with supporting this community, the approach made to us by Mr Cano is deeply concerning and calls for immediate rectification.”

“GGR urges Government to address the needs of the blind and visually-impaired community on the Rock with the care and attention they require as full citizens of this community. In this respect we welcome the recent availability of premises to afford the blind community a resource. It is completely unacceptable, however, that basics such as walking-stick training and Braille should either be delayed, totally unavailable, or where they are available, that the people who need access to them should allegedly find themselves unable to make use of such an important part of necessary equipment and skills to their daily lives. GGR does not intervene in the work of other NGOs in the Community except at the specific request of affected individuals, as in this case. Nonetheless, we trust the matter will find suitable and speedy remedy by all those concerned in supporting the blind and visually impaired.”

“On a different note, GGR has been closely studying statements by both the established and new-comer Parties prior to the Elections and soon intend to raise issues publicly which, to date, they are either avoiding or giving unacceptable or ambiguous answers to. Amongst these will be the issue of a Sex Offenders Register, which the present Government has totally ignored despite strong public support for a Petition. We continue to receive representations from concerned citizens wishing to raise this matter once more in the approach to Elections. In consequence, one of the steps we shall be taking will be to approach Annette Vallejo, who worked with us on the Petition campaign for the period of its duration and who does not form a part of our Executive but whose initiative led that Campaign in order to lend whatever support may be appropriate at this time.”