The National United Society for the Blind (NUSB) is hosting a series of workshops over the next 12 months to assist to provide support and counselling to individuals who have recently become blind or visually impaired.
NUSB President Rudyard Welch said at least 20 people have lost their sight within the last 10 months, and the Society is looking to assist them during their transition.
The workshops are being held at the Clock Tower, Garrison Savannah under the theme ‘Equality for all’.
Welch told Barbados TODAY that one of the biggest challenges for the visually impaired was gaining acceptance from society and their families.
“We don’t want pity, we want opportunity and chances to prove ourselves,” Welch stressed.
He noted that earlier this year a group of blind and visually impaired individuals completed their Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) in English, Social Studies, Principles of Business and Office Administration as part of their preparation to enter the workforce, and among them scored 12 Grade Ones, nine Grade Twos and three Grade Threes
“We’re trying to prepare our blind people for the world of work, so that we can make a meaningful contribution to the society but we need a chance or an opportunity to showcase to the society that we can get the job done,” Welch explained.
Pointing to his own personal experience, Welch revealed that after working with a company for over 20 years he was laid off after he lost his sight in 2008 because of “fear of the unknown”.
“I wouldn’t want other persons who [are] still able to work…put out in the cold so the aim of our organisation is equality for all,” he added.
The NUSB president lamented that, “people often think because you are disabled you have no needs, no aspirations and our intention is to change that thinking in society… people still live in homes so what we would like to do is teach an individual who has lost their sight how to manoeuvre in the kitchen safely and effectively, how to continue to maintain their own, go shopping and those sorts of things.” (KK)