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October is Blindness Awareness Month and filled with reminders that spotlight people who are blind and blindness issues, and we at New England Low Vision and Blindness are excited to join the celebrations.
There are so many reasons to celebrate blindness awareness in October, here are just a few of them:
World Blindness Awareness Month — #BlindnessAwarenessMonth
World Blindness Awareness Month was established for every October to help people understand the realities of living without sight. The World Health Organization estimates that almost 285 million people suffer from blindness or visual impairment worldwide. In the United States about 4 million Americans are blind and 47,000 (1 person every minute) become blind each year.
At least 40 of the 50 United States and countries worldwide organize events through the month of October as part of World Blindness Awareness Month to bring awareness to blindness and related blindness issues.
Eye Care Awareness Month — #EyeCareAwarenessMonth
Eye Care Awareness Month takes place each October to raise awareness to the importance of eye health and to preventable and treatable blindness. It is said that up to 80% of blindness is avoidable through prevention or treatment.
As part of Eye Care Awareness Month people are encouraged to have an annual eye exam. Most health insurance plans cover basic eye exams every 24 months and most vision plans cover annual eye exams. Eye exams by qualified Eye Care Professionals (ECPs) are important to maintain eye health and to prevent vision loss.
Meet the Blind Month — #MTBM16 / #NFBMTBM
According to the National Federation for the Blind (NFB), October is Meet the Blind Month. During Meet the Blind Month, the NFB holds outreach activities to create opportunities and to encourage people to meet blind people living in their communities and to realize that blind people are vital contributing members of society.
Meet the Blind Month has its own Twitter hashtag if you want real-time information Meet the Blind Month events: #MTBM16 and #NFBMTBM
Children’s Vision Month
October has also been declared Children’s Vision Month to encourage parents to book annual eye exams for their children to ensure their eye health.
Eye exams can begin as early as 6 months and are important to detect and prevent vision loss and to protect eye health.
One in 4 kids are said to have vision problems. Many of these go unnoticed without a full screening from a qualified Eye Care Professional. Since 80% of learning is said to be visual, eye exams can often make the difference for a kid’s success at school.
Children’s Vision Month highlights the importance of getting children’s eyes examined, preferably once a year.
National Braille Week — October 8-14th — #NationalBrailleWeek
Braille is more than 200 years old and is used in 120 countries. Braille helps people write and read books, magazines, exam papers, business and legal documents, use phones, computers and other smart devices to name just a few. Braille is all around us on ATMs, elevators, way-finding signs, in hospitals, public and private buildings and beyond.
National Braille Week helps us be mindful of the importance of Braille and to understand how more needs to be done to incorporate Braille to increase literacy and give equal access to blind and visually impaired people worldwide.
World Sight Day – October 11th — #WorldSightDay
World Sight Day is held the second Thursday of every October as a global event to bring awareness to avoidable blindness and visual impairment issues.
World Sight Day has 3 goals:
- To raise public awareness about blindness and vision impairment
- To influence governments to support blindness prevention
- To educate people about avoidable blindness
The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), under the direction of the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO), and the Lion’s Club International work together to coordinate activities and events the world over to celebrate World Sight Day.
White Cane Safety Day – October 15th — #WhiteCaneSafetyDay
White Cane Safety Day was first signed and proclaimed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on October 15, 1964. White Cane Safety Day celebrates the achievements of blind and visually impaired people as well as to recognize the white cane as a “staff of independence for blind people.”
White Cane Safety Day is a day where governments reaffirm commitment to providing services to increase the independence and self-sufficiency of blind and visually impaired people. White Cane Safety Day is also a day to remind motorists and pedestrians to yield to people using white canes.
During White Cane Safety Day people conduct meetings and ceremonies, set up displays, have special walks, hand out t-shirts and literature and release public service announcements as part of the celebrations.
Blind Americans Equality Day – October 15th
In addition to White Cane Safety Day, President Barack Obama has also named every October 15th to be Blind Americans Equality Day to celebrate the important role blind and visually impaired Americans have played in the nation’s life and culture.
The Presidential Proclamation for Blind Americans Equality Day states:
“As business leaders and public advocates, teachers and scientists, musicians and athletes, and in countless other ways, blind and visually impaired Americans have profoundly enriched every part of our national life. Today, we celebrate their innumerable contributions, and we recommit to guaranteeing equal access, equal opportunity, and equal respect for all Americans.”
Blind Americans Equality Day celebrates the contributions of blind and visually impaired Americans and calls for greater equality in access for all.
Eye Injury Prevention Month
Eye Injuries happen at work, at home, at school, in sports. 90% of all eye injuries could be prevented by taking a few precautions and wearing the proper protective eyewear. All About Vision has some great resources for Preventing Eye Injuries and on the 7 Most Common Eye Injuries and How to Treat Them.
Home Eye Safety Month
Did you know that approximately half of all eye injuries occur in or around the home? A total of 1.5 million eye injuries happen at home each year. The most common injuries happen in the yard, garage or garden. Another 125,000 eye injuries/year are caused by accidents involving common household cleaning products. The good news is that nearly 90% of these eye injuries are preventable.
October is Home Eye Safety Month: a time to learn about eye safety and eye injury prevention around the home. A good place to start is the Eye Safety at Home page on the Prevent Blindness website.
Celebrate Blindness Awareness Every Day
October is a great month to highlight blindness and to celebrate people who are blind. However, we need to work together to ensure our blindness community is remembered throughout the year and not just during this important month.
At New England Low Vision and Blindness we celebrate people with blindness every day of every month, and help them to live full, independent lives by providing leading blindness aids, software and training services to help them enhance their daily living and do the things they love.