The Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Optometrists (NLAO) applauds the Human Rights Commission’s Feb. 16th ruling in favour of Anne Malone, who was denied service by a local taxi company in April 2013.
Our association believes that respecting the dignity and rights of blind and visually impaired individuals is vital to ensure equality with their fellow citizens. People who are legally blind or partially sighted have the right to equal access and should not have to depend on family and friends for access to transportation.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, there are almost 7,000 people who are blind or have vision loss. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in Canada. There are about 1.4 million Canadians living with AMD, many of whom have vision loss or are at risk. Every 12 minutes in Canada, someone develops blindness or vision loss. About 75 per cent of vision loss in Canada is avoidable through prevention and treatment.
Vision loss has the second highest direct health costs of any disease category in N.L. — higher than diabetes, all cancers or cardiovascular disease. There are many proven, cost-effective ways that the financial and human toll of vision loss can be reduced, through prevention, treatment, accommodation and rehabilitation. People with vision loss are at greater risk of social isolation and reduced community participation.
The NLAO is the professional association that represents doctors of optometry in Newfoundland and Labrador. We foster excellence in the delivery of vision and eye care services through information, programs and services that promote and enhance vision care in the province.
Dr. Mark Smith, president
Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Optometrists