Passage safety in the spotlight | Otago Daily Times News Online

Southland visually impaired community highlights issues with pedestrian crossings requiring maintenance on International White Cane Safety Day.

Observed every year on October 15, it is in recognition of the international symbol of blindness and independence.

Blind Citizens NZ Southland branch representative Carolyn Weston said this year that the branch wanted to highlight the importance of having a working audio system on crosswalks, especially for people with dual disabilities.

She considered that it was common to come across a level crossing requiring repairs.

Vic West represented the group when he visited Invercargill City Council in August to brief councilors on his concerns about maintaining sound signals at railway crossings in the city.

His main concern was that level crossings in the area were not functioning as they should. Some allowed for a longer traverse time when pushed for a period of time, but the audible message confirming it was OK to do so was variable in his comprehension, if there was a message.

It was a feature he valued and would like to see restored.

Invercargill City Council’s road manager Russell Pearson said the council’s contractor was inspecting level crossings on a regular basis and at that time the most recent inspection had taken place in March.

He explained that the extra time to cross was a test characteristic at some crossings that involved more components to be maintained than the average crossing.

World Sight Day is October 14 and this year New Zealanders have been called to join the #LoveYourEyes pledge, a global challenge to complete one million eye tests.

The initiative was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).

There are four commitments people can make through the Eye Heath Aotearoa website: preventing sight loss, preserving my sight, protecting my eyes, and putting my eyes first.

To help get the tests done to those who need them, eye health professionals were also encouraged to support by offering free eye tests and employers were encouraged to participate, by committing to have their employees tested so that they can work to their full potential.

To celebrate New Zealand’s participation in the initiative and mark the day, an event will be held at the Lands End Boutique Hotel in Bluff.

It will be the first event in the world to be broadcast by IAPB and WHO and will be the southernmost eye exam site in the world.

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