INESC TEC promoted an initiative to raise awareness of the challenges experienced by blind people

The members of INESC TEC community were challenged to put on a blindfold and move around an obstacle course, using a white cane. The objective? To increase knowledge about the difficulties and obstacles that blind or visually impaired people face every day. The initiative was promoted by INESC TEC’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Commission, within the scope of the White Cane Awareness Day (October 15).

“It was a demonstrative exercise that presented a different sensory experience to participants, in order to raise awareness of the difficulties and daily obstacles faced by people who are blind or suffer from amblyopia “, explained Tiago Silva. The member of INESC TEC and the D&I Commission stated that the participants were also able to understand how the Braille alphabet works, through a Braille machine writing exercise.

“Walking with a white cane made me think about the challenges faced by people who can’t see, namely when they wish to move around independently. Despite being a controlled experience in a space I know, it’s still extremely demanding since I had to resort to my other senses. In a matter of fact, ‘walking in another person’s shoes’ is the best way to understand other people’s realities”, explained Tânia Leandro, after participating in this initiative – also acknowledging the introduction to the Braille alphabet. “It allowed me to understand how visually impaired people can write and read, and to acknowledge those who must adapt to this reality”.

Paulo Ferreira and Mariana Gomes, members of INESC TEC, also highlighted the relevance of this initiative. “This action was extremely important. It introduced me to the daily difficulties that visually impaired individuals face, which makes me further admire their resilience, in order to be active citizens, perfectly integrated into society”, said Paulo Ferreira. According to Mariana Gomes, “the challenge of moving around with a blindfold on, and the exercise with the Braille alphabet were remarkable, and highlighted the daily achievements of blind or visually impaired people”.

The initiative was promoted by INESC TEC’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Commission, within the scope of the White Cane Awareness Day

Improving accessibility at INESC TEC facilities is one of the concerns of the D&I Commission – an aspect included in the Action Plan. “We believe that this initiative was extremely important to highlight issues of accessibility, or lack thereof, and the difficulties experienced by blind people,” said Tiago Silva, explaining that the Commission aims to launch new challenges to the community soon, in order to increase knowledge in matters related to inclusion.

The activities took place on October 18 to observe the White Cane Awareness Day. Celebrated on October 15 around the world, the White Cane Awareness Day aims to highlight the achievements of people who are blind or visually impaired. The cane is a fundamental mobility tool and a symbol of independence, which contributes to a more autonomous life. Despite being used for centuries, the white version of the cane appeared in the early 20th century, since the white colour improves its visibility by third parties.

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