Category Archives: Vision Impaired Persons


In February 2014 the “Leadership and Project Management” workshop was organized by the Asian Blind Union and the Nepal Association of the Blind at Hotel Manaslu in Katmandu, Nepal. Following areas were covered at the conference.

An overview of International Treaties and strategies for their Ratification and implementation.

Gender policy of Asian Blind Union.

Identifying issues and developing strategies for implementation of Asian Blind Union Gender Policy.

Assessment of the status of Ratification of Marrakesh Copy Right Treaty.

Issues relating to strengthening of organizational capacity of Asian Blind Union affiliate organization in the sub-region, Mapping of need.

Identifying issues relating to formation of groups by women leaders in the process of development of the respective project and their experiences with regard to group dynamic.

Strategy to enhance participation of Asian Blind Union affiliate organizations in the work of Asian Blind Union

Identifying the issues and difficulties faced by women leaders during development of their respective projects by using the project format.

Developing and Presentation of a strategy for implementation of the specific project.

Strengthening skills for advocacy on Ratification and Implementation of UNCRPD.

Empowering Affiliate organizations for ensuring inclusion of blind /partially sighted persons in the programmes of International Developmental Agencies such as UNDP, UNICEF, Asian Development Bank, UNESCO, ILO etc.

Development of project for implementation in the respective country by developing partnership with aforementioned international agencies.

Vision impaired persons from South Asian countries participated for this workshop. Ms. Manique Gunaratne represented Sri Lanka for this workshop.



Manique Gunaratne

Fax – 0094114547649




It is very important for vision impaired persons to be empowered and also to know their rights. People in the very grassroots level do not get any opportunity to be educated in their rights. UNCRPD clearly states the rights of persons with disabilities. The Sri Lanka Federation of the Visually Handicapped and Myright Sweden organized a workshop for 30 vision impaired persons in Kalutara, Galle, Matara and in Hambanthota districts. The participants were really enthusiastic to learn about the 50 articles of the UNCRPD. Practical training sessions made them understand more on the subject matter. Persons with disabilities are marginalized mainly due to lack of knowledge on their rights. Although persons with disabilities are subject to discrimination they hardly take legal action. The reason behind this is that they do not know the actions they should take as persons with disabilities. In June 2014 when this workshop was conducted at Dilena Hotel Ms. Manique Gunaratne was one of the resource persons.

activities for participants lecture on leadership development


Smart Cane device is an electronic travel aid used in conjunction with a normal white cane that assists a visually impaired person in mobility and navigation.

While the normal white cane can only detect obstacles up to knee height, this device is capable of detecting obstacles from knee to head height. In other words, the Smart Cane is not meant to replace the white cane but to augment its functionality. It can detect obstacles up to 3 meters when used outdoor and up to 1.8 meters when used indoor. With this increased range, it warns the users about impending obstacles before possible collision happens and helps in finding collision-free paths.

Smart cane device is not meant to replace white cane but to augment its functionality.


The benefits of using the SmartCane device are as follows:

  • It helps to detect knee-above obstacles which are usually not detected by the white cane. Such obstacles might include a tree branch, underside of a car, hanging cloth strings, protruding window air conditioners, etc. As these obstacles usually pose a risk of injury to the head and upper part of the body, it is critical to detect them early.
  • It increases the detection range to 3 meters in the long-range mode and to 1.8 meters in the short-range mode. The enhanced detection range helps in informing the user about the presence of obstacles much before touching the actual obstacle. An object as big as wall and as small as a 3 cm wide raised pipe at 3 m can be detected from mentioned distance. This early detection helps in avoiding unwanted collisions.
  • It helps in finding collision free-paths while walking by detecting and avoiding obstacles.


In March 2015 The Indian Institute of Technology gave a smart cane training for a group of vision impaired persons at The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon. Ms. Manique Gunaratne is also a proud user of a smart cane training


Many vision impaired persons in Sri Lanka are confined to the four walls at home. Research shows that lack of education, lack of vocational training makes them more dependent. Vision impaired persons at the very grassroots level do not get the relevant information for various services and facilities available for them. It is important for vision impaired persons to know their rights in order to be empowered. Some rights cannot be met individually. It has to be done through advocacy and lobbying through institutionalizing. Working as a pressure group will also assist them to meet their rights. In order to make the vision impaired persons strong in their rights The Sri Lanka Federation of the Visually Handicapped and Myright Sweden organized a workshop for vision impaired persons in Kegalle and Kandy districts at the Kandy Y.M.C.a. in July 2014. These information should reach the very grassroots level. Ms. Manique Gunaratne did a presentation on “Importance of vision impaired women to institutionalize.



Most vision impaired persons lack in their leadership skills. Due to attitude barriers and family barriers most vision impaired persons confine to the four walls of the house. It is very important to improve the leadership qualities of vision impaired persons in the very grassroots level. In order to address the above issue the Sri Lanka Federation of the Visually Handicapped and Myright Sweden organized a workshop for vision impaired persons in Gampaha, Kurunegala and Kandy districts in August 2014. The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon I.C.T. trainees were also included in this training in order to develop their leadership qualities so that it will improve their employability skills. It is also essential to educate them in their rights. Ms. Manique Gunaratne did the training on the United Nations Convention on rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)

.presentation on uncrpd




Vision impaired persons use the white cane as an eye. The sense of touch is felt by the tip of the white cane and thereby through sense they find their way. During the Second World War large number of soldiers became vision impaired. During that period Mr. Richard E. Hoover from America invented the white cane to rehabilitate the soldiers. Since then the white cane is used around the world as an assistive device for vision impaired persons.


In 1969 The International Federation of the Blind which is now known as the World Blind Union had its annual general meeting at Galle Face Hotel in Sri Lanka. At that meeting it was decided to declare 15 October as the International White cane Day. Since then each year on 15 October the International White Cane Day is celebrated around the world.


The white cane is divided into three parts.

1 The grip

The grip is the top part of the white cane and it is made out of rubber so that it is shock proof.


2 the Shaft

The shaft is the middle part of the white cane which is made out of one inch aluminum pipe.


3 The Tip

Bottom part of the white cane is called the tip which is made out of nylon rod.


The colour of the white cane is white because it can be seen at a longer distance for sighted persons. 6 inches from the bottom of the white cane is coloured in red to indicate that it is a blind person. 18 inches from the bottom is coloured in red in order to indicate that it is used by a deaf blind person. The weight of a white cane is 230 to 280g.


A white cane helps a vision impaired person to go to the destination he wants independently, safely and with the minimum period of time.


When a vision impaired person takes a white cane into his hand, he or she should decide where am I? Where should I go and how I am going.


Gate pattern is very important to walk with the white cane, which consist of body balance and the walk pattern. When you keep the left leg forward the tip of the white cane should touch the right edge of the body width.


There are technics for ascending, descending, walk through narrow ways, gliding, find gateways, walk through payments, crossing the road etc.


It is very important a vision impaired person to be independent with a white cane. Otherwise he or she will become double handicapped.


All vision impaired persons must be loud, proud and passionate when using the white cane.


Every year in October the former President of Sri Lanka His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa at his official residence, “Temple Trees” distributes the first set of white canes to mark the International White Cane Day. In October 2014 representatives from the Sri Lanka Federation of the Visually Handicapped and the Sri Lanka Council of Visually Handicapped Graduates were there to receive the white canes. Ms. Manique Gunaratne was also among the group of 6 vision impaired persons to receive the first set of white canes from His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa to mark the occasion.


Ms. Manique Gunaratne delivered two speeches on the “significance of the white cane” at the International White Cane Day celebration organized by the Sri Lanka Federation of the Visually Handicapped at the Public Library and at the Crist Church, organized by the National Forum of Visually Handicapped Women.

group photo with president 2014 manique with president2014 White cane day at public library 2014