Competing With Barriers

It feels so good, when persons with visual impairment can leave their homes and travel to the city, either to work or do business. In doing so, they will have to effectively and skilfully use the white cane to find objects and landmarks. However, persons with visual impairment face immense challenges while traversing our nation’s streets.

If it is not an open drain or manhole, it’s a covered manhole, the cover of which is about two inches higher than the level of the pavement, easy to trip over. If it’s not the difficulty of crossing the road because of the non-existence of audio street- crossing signals or traffic officers who would be able to assist, it’s the challenge of maneuvering the pavements as they compete with inconsistently placed utility poles, trees at face height, parked vehicles and vendors (to name a few), for space on the sidewalk.

In the community of persons with visual impairment there is already a lack of confidence and a fear of independence, as experienced by many. This is further compounded when persons encounter these challenges on a daily basis.

Marginalized or not, the community of persons with visual impairment are citizens too and should be considered in the national development agenda and treated fairly. Independent travel should not continue to be constant horrendous risk. PAVI says, the time is now, to begin minimizing these obstacles and make life less burdensome for citizens who are visually impaired.

Let us now expose you to some of the many barriers encountered by persons with visually disabilities, who transverse the streets daily.

  1. Decrepit Pavements on Queen Street
  2. Electricity pole in a hazardous position
  3. Vagrants on Chacon Street competing for space on pavement
  4. Pothole with water on sidewalk on Bacolet Street Scarborough
  5. Vehicle parked on the sidewalk at Post Office Street
  6. Tree planted in a dangerous location
  7. Fire hydrant in the middle of the pavement

What should be done?


Signpost in the middle of the pavement Lamppost in the middle of the pavement Dangerous pavement Obstacle in the middle of the pavement vehicle blocking the pavement ladder


  • Fix all decrepit pavements, edges of pavements should be brightly painted (orange or yellow)
  • Penalize persons who park their vehicles on pavements or place any other obstacles which would interrupt the free flow of pedestrian traffic.
  • Remove vagrants from the nation’s streets


  • All manholes should be covered with flat covers which should be properly secured
  • Grill covers should be avoided


  • Poles should be on one side of pavement NOT the middle of pavement
  • Poles should not be close to fire hydrants
  • Lamp posts should be brightly painted for easy identification (orange or yellow)


  • Trees should not be in the middle of pavements, and where absolutely necessary should be cut above six feet
  • No railings should be placed around trees, or if they are they should be brightly painted


  • The white cane must become part of drivers’ regulations
  • Traffic lights should be fitted with audio signalling the colours
  • Stops on the PTSC buses should be announced to enable the visually impaired person to know where he or she is located