January 31 2023
Matsue City, Shimane Pref – Braille blocks that serve as guideposts for the visually impaired continue to be buried in snow due to prolonged snowfall. Snow piled up on the utility poles and walls that mark the corners, making it difficult to find the way without an attendant. Commuting and shopping have already affected the lives of the parties, and the parties and related parties are struggling.
“I can’t find my way.” On the afternoon of the 31st, Kaori Shimizu who is visually impaired (42), and works at the Lighthouse Library (Minamida-cho, Matsue City), walked to her home for the first time since the snow fell on the 24th.
She usually walks by herself, with her white cane in hand and a braille block in hand, in about 10 minutes. However, on this day, the tactile blocks were covered with snow everywhere, and even with her white cane, she could not feel her senses and could not walk on her own. In some places, the snow shoveled from the sidewalk was piled high on the tactile blocks.
Her commute is now consists of being picked up and dropped off by her co-workers, and her shopping is assisted by caregivers. “She can’t do what she normally does by herself”.
Other visually impaired people have the same problem. Eiko Watanabe, 36, a blind staff member of the NPO Project Yuai, said, “I’ve been absent from work since it started snowing.”
According to Matsue City’s snow removal plan, roads are prioritized into three stages and snow is removed from the roadway. The situation is that the sidewalk is asking for the cooperation of the citizens. Kotaro Tanaka, 46, deputy director of the Lighthouse Library, said, “It’s difficult to ask someone to remove the snow from the tactile blocks.” I think it will become a society where everyone can live comfortably.”
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