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South African National Council for the Blind

Council’s Vision is to facilitate a network of organisations who collaborate towards the prevention of blindness and securing the full participation and inclusion of blind and partially sighted people in all aspects of a diverse South African society.Further details:ORGANISATIONAL PROFILE: SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR THE BLIND Our Mission (abbreviated) The South African National Council for the Blind, through a network of over 100 member organisations, serves, supports and facilitates the prevention of blindness, rehabilitation, community development, training and education of South Africans with visual impairments.Our Objectives Provide relevant services and support to South Africans with visual impairments Facilitate collaborative partnerships to serve the interests of visually impaired South Africans Advocate on behalf of persons with visual impairments Develop and maintain standards for services offered to persons with visual impairments Promote the education, training and rehabilitation relevant for the employment of persons with visual impairments Help organisations for and of the blind to deliver effective and relevant services Gather and disseminate information on matters concerning visual impairment Initiate and implement projects beneficial to persons with visual impairments Supply assistive devices and related technologies to persons with visual impairments Preserve and restore sight and prevent blindness Work together with international organisations for the improvement of the quality of life of persons with visual impairments Create awareness of the skills, capacities and abilities of persons with visual impairments Ensure that blind and partially sighted people of all ages enjoy all rights promised by the Constitution of South Africa. Historic overview The South African National Council for the Blind (Council) was established in 1929 with the objectives of co-ordinating South African organisations for the blind, being the national blind representative body, advocacy and the promotion of the rights of persons with visual impairments. There was also emphasis laid on the prevention of blindness, which led to the establishment of the Bureau for the Prevention of Blindness in 1944.  Since then the Council has grown exponentially – adding education and rehabilitation (1985), a centre making assistive devices available in 1986 as well as entrepreneurial development and support (1991) to its list of services.Council now Council is a national organisation and comprises nine provincial structures and some 100 member organisations. It is also affiliated to international organisations including the Africa Union of the Blind (AFUB) and the World Blind Union (WBU).Council comprises four core business areas, namely Social Development, the Bureau for the Prevention of Blindness, Education and lastly Fundraising and Public Relations. These divisions run efficiently with the help of Finance, Administration and Logistics and Governance and Project Services.Social DevelopmentThe Social Development Division strives to restore the human dignity of visually impaired people by giving them the tools that will allow them to become self-sufficient, to increase their sense of self-worth and to ultimately become contributors to society. As long as blind and partially sighted people are locked in a vicious cycle of poverty and illiteracy they will remain dependant on their families, communities and the state.This division strives to alleviate the high rate of unemployment among visually impaired people through the provision of appropriate training. This division comprises two larger components – Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) and Centralised Training, as offered through Optima College.CBR is an outreach initiative that assists visually impaired persons in starting up their own self help groups and small businesses. Council employs Community Development Workers (CDW’s), as well as Co-ordinators for the youth project SABYO (South African Blind Youth Organistaion) and SABWIA (South African Blind Women in Action). The CDW’s identify visually impaired people in indigent areas, and then strive to equip them with the essential skills they need to become more employable. These skills are imparted via orientation and mobility training and training in activities of daily living as well as through information about group formation, self-empowerment and advocacy. This model also provides entrepreneurial training, which is based on international formats and standards.Centralised vocational training is provided through Optima College, which offers training courses in computer literacy, call centre operation as well as braille literacy. The college contains hostel facilities that can accommodate up to 38 students at any one time.The Bureau for the Prevention of BlindnessCouncil’s mature and highly successful Eye Care Programme is facilitated through the Bureau for the Prevention of Blindness. The Eye Care Programme operates four mobile eye care units that provide essential eye care services to people living in remote rural areas of the country and townships where there are limited or no services available. These services include eye screening and examination, refraction, medical and surgical intervention. Annually on average, 4000 cataract procedures are facilitated, 9000 patients screened and 2500 spectacles dispensed.The Bureau for the Prevention of Blindness facilitates awareness and education programmes, such as Eye Care Awareness Month held in October every year.Since 2006, focus on the provision of Low Vision Services has increased. This service provides people with diminished eyesight the opportunity to access specialist services and assistive devices such as magnifying aids, special protective sun glasses, as well as tips on how to deal with living with low vision.Education and TrainingOur Education and Training Division currently supports 21 schools. This is done by conducting workshops for educators and lobbying with government on the challenges which face these schools in relation to their ability to meet the special needs of visually impaired children from the early stages of development within the duration of their schooling career and in preparation for further education and the workplace.The Education and Training team provides consulting services on issues which relate to curriculum adaptation, assistive devices and technology, accessible learning support materials and many other areas of interest to the educators, learners and their families.This team has also been actively engaged with the national department of education in addressing the current literacy crisis in relation to the special needs of the disabled adult, with a particular interest in the provision of Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) for those visually impaired adults.

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