By Fazal Khaliq

SWAT: Visually impaired people said here on Thursday that persons with disabilities including visually impaired faced multiple issue during the Covid-19 pandemics but they were completely ignored by the governmental and non-governmental organizations.

They were speaking in a function to celebrate White Cane Safety Day which was organized by the SPS College in collaboration with Pakistan Blind Association Swat chapter. Large number of visually impaired persons, social workers and civil society members participated in the event.

Isa Khan a visually impaired young man who is also a student of Journalism in Swat University said that he was excited to have people from all walks of life sharing their celebration. “The visually impaired persons have been using canes to travel independently for thousands of years but it was for the first time celebrated in 1964 in the United States and was proclaimed a national observance by President Lyndon B. Johnson,” he said, adding that since then the white cane became a symbol of freedom, independence, and confidence for the visually impaired persons.

Zafar Ali, a social worker while addressing the gathering said that it was the collective responsibility of all to stand with persons with disabilities and take them inclusively in society. “This is not only the responsibility of the government but also all walks of life in our society to treat them equally, include them in sports and other social activities,” he said.

The visually impaired people said that 98 percent of them were from poor families but sadly the government as well as NGOs completely sidelined them. “We can contribute in the development of our country because the government and community have completely ignored us, even the two percent quota for us has not been implemented,” said Naeem Sultan Khan another visually impaired person and activist.

District Swat Social Welfare officer Nusrat Iqbal said that persons with disabilities were more active and capable than the normal people. “They can do everything if they are given opportunities. I claim that they are fit for every job and I assure them that the social welfare department always stands with them and will help and assist them in every field,” she said.

Principal SPS College, earlier welcomed all the guests and reiterated to help and assist the visually impaired persons whenever they need it. At the end white canes were gifted to visually impaired persons.