Call to aid the blind to enter workforce

It is for commerce and industry to shift their focus from disability to how blind and visually impaired people can bring change to society and make a contribution to the economy.

This according to League of Friends of the Blind (Lofob) as the world observed International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Sunday.

The organisation said about 97% of all blind and partially sighted people in South Africa were unemployed.

Lofob executive director Shahiemah Edwards said: “It has always been Lofob’s firm belief that blind and visually impaired people should be employed in the open economy.

“There is really no reason why they could not be considered for employment as Lofob would support the placement of a visually impaired person in the workplace and assist potential employers with identifying jobs in a business that blind people can effectively do. Our country needs to do more to ensure the economic empowerment of people who are blind and visually impaired.”

Lofob said it assisted 19 blind and visually impaired people to prepare for the matric exams this year in its educational support programme as the stepping stone to further qualification for gainful employment.

Lofob’s orientation and mobility practitioner, who is also living with blindness, Tsheko Tlou, 42, added: “The employment situation in our country is dire. Many blind and visually impaired people have the qualifications, yet they are not employed.

”There appears to be a misplaced distrust of competencies and capabilities.”

Provincial director of DeafSA and TV presenter Jabaar Mohamed said there needs to be an “ongoing celebration of disability every day, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day”.

“We need to remind (the world) that we are able to do anything as we are human. We the deaf community in SA still need more access to all public service (social, health, education, jobs) it is still a barrier for some of our deaf community where not all understand what is the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.

(There is a) need to train every sector in South Africa to internalise and understand how it needs to implement those documents,” Mohamed said.

Meanwhile, the provincial Department of Social Development (DSD) said it had allocated R164 million to support NPOs that provide therapeutic and support services.

“I was greatly moved by the passionate staff working at DSD’s Sivuyile Residential Facility, where significant upgrades are currently under way to ensure the children and adults who receive care there are extra comfortable, and those working at our NGO partners, the Carel du Toit Centre and the League of the Friends of the Blind, and not forgetting the clients at these facilities” said Western Cape Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez.


“It is all about inclusion. If we as a society can do more to create accessible spaces free of discrimination, we would have the benefit of the many wonderful talents, knowledge and skills of these individuals.”

Source: IOL News