During the Second Convention of the International Federation of the Blind (now the World Blind Union) in 1969, Sri Lanka proposed that the 15th of October be declared as International White Cane Day. The Convention was held in Sri Lanka by the International Federation of the Blind in partnership with the Sri Lanka Council for the Blind (SLCB) as the President of the Federation was a member of the SLCB.
The SLCB annually organises the National White Cane Safety Day Celebrations in a grand manner befitting to the significance of the event. This year, the ceremony took place on the 15th of October in the Public Library Auditorium of Colombo. The Chief Guest, Mrs. Leisha de Silva Chandrasena, Chairperson of Sri Lanka Telecom in her speech, promised to grant a special concessional rate for broad band internet services in order to ensure accessibility to information and communication to persons with visual disabilities. Toe tapping entertainment was provided by Janith Rukmal, a blind undergraduate together with several other blind youth.
There were three very informative speeches. Mr. Gamini Karunaratne enlightened the large audience among which were several high ranking government officials, on the importance of the White Cane. Two ladies, Dr. Mrs. S. Kariyawasam and Ms. Susila Nandani Perera spoke on how they easily adapted to the condition of total blindness with the assistance of the SLCB. Dr. Mrs. Kariyawasam lost her sight later in life while Ms. Perera was born with low vision and completely went blind gradually. Needy persons with visual disabilities received cash grants to support self-employment and construction of houses. Cassette players and talking watches were also donated. All persons with visual disabilities received a white cane each. At the end of the proceedings, we resolved to work with even more commitment towards making the public and private sector aware and recognise our abilities rather than our disabilities.
Shalika Karunaratne Representative of Sri Lanka – Leaders Course 2006
Member, Executive Committee – Sri Lanka Council for the Blind