14 October 2020, Cape Town - Keeping abreast of technology advancements and in line with best practice, Cape Town Society of the Blind (CTSB) has opened a Low Vision Clinic at their premises in Salt River, Cape Town.
Visually Impaired Persons will be able to visit the clinic to see the optometrist who will diagnose their needs and direct them to the rehabilitation team who will assist the client with devices that will make their daily living more comfortable.
The National Development Agency (NDA) is one of the Clinic’s four funders, the others being The Jannie Mouton, Nussbaum and Cohen Family Foundations. NDA has contributed R558 748, 03 for staff training, furniture, assistive, sensory and visual devices including playing and learning equipment.
Persons with low vision need to have specialised assessment and rehabilitation which cannot be done by a regular optometrist. Due to the dire shortage of Low Vision Assessment services, patients often need to wait up to a year before they receive treatment with the result that their quality of life is affected as their eyesight continues to deteriorate. This is especially detrimental to young children and scholars who miss out on critical learning opportunities due to their limited vision.
“In line with our development approach towards the services rendered to the disability sector, NDA responded to the CTSBs application for additional funding after they had raised, on their own, half of the funds required to open the Low Vision Clinic. This brings about a strong partnership that attends to the visual and sensory needs of the elderly, young children and other vulnerable persons in less advantaged communities. The equipment we have assisted with goes a long way towards interventions linked to the specialised assessment, restoration of sight and blindness prevention strategies,” says Mrs Thamo Mzobe, Chief Executive Officer of NDA.
CTSB has a long history of providing successful programmes for the Blind. It is in the best position to extend its services to those with Low Vision as well. Over the past year, CTSB has actively engaged in fundraising efforts to secure the necessary finances to open this Low Vision Clinic.
The project took two months to set up, including training of the existing rehabilitation team. The team consists of a registered optometrist, an orientation & mobility specialist, a social worker, a career developer and an administrator. In addition to this, the clinic will have full support from CTSB operations, financial, PR and logistics teams. The services of several outside low vision specialists who will ensure accountability, monitoring and evaluation and assist with oversight are also in place.
‘I believe that this clinic could significantly improve the employability of thousands of South Africans suffering from low vision. With timely low-vision intervention, assessment and rehabilitation we plan to equip our low vision students to cope and excel in a sighted world. The good news is that correct low vision care will mitigate or alleviate the effects of low vision and can arrest the slide into premature blindness. We are excited and proud that the NDA shares this vision and have helped us bring it to fruition,’ says Lizelle De Wet, CTSB Chief Executive Officer.
Cape Town Society for the Blind (CTSB) is a Cape Town based NGO established in 1929 to address the needs of Blind and Visually Impaired Persons. The organisation has grown from humble beginnings to a fully-fledged campus housing a training facility, workshops, a showroom and a small coffee shop. Courses range from computer classes, braille to cane weaving. The vision is to ensure that blind and visually impaired persons contribute to society and are independent.