We take light for granted. It lets us admire our child’s face, go at a green streetlight, and catch a ball thrown our way. And if light fades, we simply flick a switch.
The blind, however, live in the dark with no option of turning on the light.
Each year on October 15th, White Cane Awareness Day spotlights the plight of the blind and visually impaired by focusing on this essential tool that enables them to move freely and safely from place to place. The white cane effectively extends their hands and arms, so they may assess the situation, and move quickly, confidently and independently.
Like the white cane, the Lighthouse of Broward also inspires confidence and independence by offering free training and rehabilitation to the blind and visually impaired of all ages in Broward County. Services are tailored to individual needs by nationally certified professionals to identify the exact skills that lead to maximum independence.
While Lighthouse of Broward offers free services to more than 2,500 children and adults in Broward County, many more people need our services. Approximately 350,000 severely visually impaired individuals live here in Broward County, one of the highest incidences of visual impairment in the nation. Our state leads the nation both in numbers of blind persons and growth of this population, according to the Florida Agencies Serving the Blind. The number of severely visually impaired Florida seniors is approximately 2 million while the total of severely visually impaired children in public schools is about 3,000.
The disparity between the number of people served and the number in need weighs heavily on me. This White Cane Awareness Day, my hope is to let people know about Lighthouse of Broward, an important – free – resource for people without or with little sight.
Like the white cane, Lighthouse of Broward can be critical in changing the lives and world of those who are blind or visually impaired. Through the independence gained by state-of-the-art technology, effective training and general support, we turn on the lights for the severely visually impaired and open their eyes to independence.
Ellyn Drotzer, MSW, LCSW, is the President & CEO of Lighthouse of Broward located in Fort Lauderdale. Its mission is to provide specialized rehabilitation, life skills training, and employment opportunities that enhance the independence, productivity, and dignity of children and adults who are blind or visually impaired.