Lighting up lives

Friday, 8 October 2010 22:05 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Sri Lanka Federation of the Visually Handicapped (SLFVH) is getting ready to mark International White Cane Day in Sri Lanka.

SLFVH is dedicated towards ensuring that the quality of life experienced by the visually handicapped is enhanced so that their talents and potential are valued by society.

White Cane Day will be celebrated on 18 October 2010 locally. The event is set to commence with the traditional White Cane Walk from Vihara Maha Devi Park to the Public Library with the participation of the visually impaired, their families and member of the public. Orange Electric is the sole sponsor for this event and other activities planned to mark the day.

“We invite all Sri Lankans to join us in observing White Cane Day, with the earnest hope of independence and opportunities for people who are blind or are visually impaired. It would be impossible for us to make this cause a success without the humble assistance of all Sri Lankans,” said Alex Jayawardena, the President of SLFVH.

The Federation operates a small-scale handloom weaving centre as a means of sourcing income for the needs of the visually handicapped. The products are marketed by the Federation and employees are remunerated on a piece rate basis.

However, the limited resources and scope of an NGO operation stand in the way of fully maximising the potential this marketing opportunity. Orange lends a supporting hand by purchasing a bulk of these products and distributing them to retail stores, playing the role of a facilitator and ensuring the visually handicapped are spared this arduous task.

“The observance of this day provides the entire world and our Sri Lankan community the opportunity and platform to reflect on the handicaps of visual impairment, with the aim of empowering them to actively participate in all spheres of development,” stated Kushan Kodithuwakku – Managing Director of Orange Electric.

As an organisation fully committed towards eradicating preventable blindness, Orange Electric has come forward to set an example by providing employment opportunity for two visually impaired members of SLFVH.

“For us at Orange Electric, contributing towards this worthy cause is not something we do once a year. As a corporate commitment, we make a donation from every Orange light bulb we sell, to a fund set up towards helping restore sight to the blind. This gives our consumers an opportunity to be a part of this noble humanitarian cause as well,” said Kamil Hassan – CEO Orange Electric.

Cataract is the main culprit behind blindness in Sri Lanka and it affects 50-60% of the population. One of the primary projects undertaken by Orange CSR is providing lenses for persons who require cataract surgery.

The Orange bulb packaging calls on the public to provide information on any individual who needs financial assistance for cataract surgery and Orange will do the needful. Over 2000 surgeries have been funded to date.

“While being the only corporate representative in the National Eye Care Programme, we have also launched a number of other initiatives. One of them the reconstruction of three major eye units including theatres in Kegalle, Balapitiya and Horana. Eye related issues account for 30% of premature births in Sri Lanka. Orange has donated 3/4 of the Laser Indirect Ophthalescope machines available in the country. Under the School Screening & Spectacle Distribution Program in the Hambantota district, all school children are being checked for visual impairment. This project is being done under the joint patronage of the Ministries of Health and Education,” said Kamil.

Apart from lighting up our homes, Orange Electric is truly committed towards lighting up the lives of those who are in darkness. ‘Light For You, Sight For Me,’ Orange Electric’s CSR initiative to eradicate blindness, is finally shining a light at the end of the tunnel for many Sri Lankans.

White Cane Day is an international awareness event to reiterate the importance of the Long Cane and to promote a safe environment for its users. White Cane Day 2010 takes place on 15 October.

New smart cane for the blind

Helping the blind get around used to involve audio cues at street intersections as well as having the assistance of a cane. Well, things have certainly progressed to a greater level today thanks to an Associate Professor of Applied Science at the University of Arkansas who has been working on a white cane which utilizes laser technology in order to deliver the lay of the land to users. A Flash LADAR (laser detection and ranging) three-dimensional imaging sensor will be the main star behind recreating a detailed model of the user’s environment. It is capable of taking in just about everything simultaneously, within sequential floodlit exposures that typically lasts less than a nanosecond each, making it suitable for those who are always on the move. Hopefully a hypothetical navigation device will become reality in due time.