Jay Galvin via Wikimedia Commons

Low vision and totally blind Connecticut residents are being denied the most basic tool for safely navigating through their daily lives thanks to a legislative budget bumble.  

When you think of someone who is blind, you often picture a person with a white cane.  But now, due to lack of funding, the state’s Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind is unable to provide this most basic tool to those who need it for their safety and well-being.

Chris Lassen, BESB’s supervisor of adult services, says his office has put out a call to those having white canes that are no longer being used to donate them to the state agency so they can be refurbished and given to blind clients who need them.  Lassen said the recent budget cuts came as a complete surprise to him and his staff.

The white cane allows the user to identify obstacles like walls, furniture and utility poles, and evaluate walking surfaces such as streets, sidewalks and stairs.  The cane also serves to notify motorists and others nearby that the individual is visually disabled.  The retail price of a folding white cane is about $45.

This grotesque oversight in the allocation of state money calls into serious question the ability of current leadership in Hartford to govern, and is yet another slap in the face to taxpayers and those residents of the state who are most in need.

Kevin Harkins is Vice President of The South East CT Community Center of the Blind.