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Uber launches UberASSIST

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During April 2017 Uber announced the launch of UberASSIST in Cape Town. Uber has now announced the launch of UberASSIST in Johannesburg!

UberASSIST has been designed to provide additional assistance for senior riders and riders with access needs. According to Uber, Driver-partners are specifically trained to assist riders when getting in and ou of vehicles and can accommodate folding wheelchairs, walkers and service animals.

Read more about accessing this service here: http://tinyurl.com/y82ebokx

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South Africa
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Myopia is thriving in modern society

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Myopia – or near-sightedness – is becoming more widespread and is expected to become even more prevalent, possibly because people are spending longer periods on tasks using near vision, such as reading and using electronic devices. Myopia is the most common refractive error in SA and it’s normally simply an inconvenience that results in blurry vision when looking at objects in the distance. But there are instances where the condition is progressive and severe, and can result in severe visual impairment. The most common treatment is correction with glasses or contact lenses. Many people opt for laser refractive surgery, while other treatment involves wearing special contact lenses to reshape the cornea, or having intra-ocular lenses surgically implanted in the eyes. It’s essential that you and your children have your eyes checked at least every two years, or if you have difficulty seeing distant objects or experience squinting, eye strain and headaches.

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South Africa
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Take advantage of lower prices

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Prices have been slashed so much at the SANCB’s Resource Centre that you’ll be forgiven for thinking we’re having a sale. But it’s not a sale – it’s part of our drive to make assistive devices more accessible to blind and partially sighted persons. The high cost of assistive devices prohibits many people from owning products which are crucial to independent living.

Prices have drastically reduced anywhere from 4% to 68% from 1 April 2017. The classic standard Perkins Brailler costs 21% less at R11 500, the Liquid Level Indicator is 43% cheaper at R185, while an Ambutech folding cane is 13% cheaper at R330.

One of the main factors contributing to prices is the exchange rate, because most of these items are imported. Prices may fluctuate according to the exchange rate but we’ll strive to keep them lower for as long as possible.

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Welcome windfall

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The SANCB was honoured to receive a generous US$2000 grant from the prestigious Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) Foundation towards our Leave No Child Behind campaign.

The campaign aims to ensure that all blind and partially sighted children are identified and admitted to school at an early age; while also seeking to ensure that there are adequate learning materials and assistive devices.

We extend a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to the MDRT Foundation for their generosity.

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Let’s celebrate our colourful nation

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The first Friday of September is Casual Day, SA’s foremost fundraising campaign for persons with disabilities. This year’s theme is “Celebrate Diversity with Persons with Disabilities” to underscore the goal of building a society that embraces and celebrates diversity. The stickers, which are shaped like brightly-coloured puzzle pieces, cost R10 each and there’s an exciting range of merchandise including kids and adults golf shirts, caps and bucket hats. Please support the SANCB by purchasing your Casual Day stickers and merchandise from us. Contact 012 452 3811 or marlene@sancb.org.za for more information.

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Reshmika makes her mark

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Optima College administrator, Reshmika Dowling, cherishes her work with visually impaired persons.

“It’s rewarding to know that each day I make a difference in someone’s life. Even more so when you see what students go on to accomplish after Optima. Optima truly does amazing work,” says Reshmika.

Reshmika’s partially sighted, as a result of both congenital cataracts and glaucoma, and is married with three children.

Although her plate is full, she’s satisfied knowing that at the end of each day, she has made a positive mark on the world.

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Save the Date: 14 October 2017

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We always celebrate two important events in October – International White Cane Safety Day and World Sight Day – with a fun walk. The event is aimed at creating awareness about the importance of a white cane as a tool of independence for visually impaired persons – and we encourage sighted participants to do at least part of the walk blindfolded. Last year we hosted a 3.5km walk from our Pretoria head office and we were joined by 120 participants. This year’s fun walk is on Saturday, 14 October. Please save the date – we’d love for you to join us. For more information, contact 012 452 3811 or marlene@sancb.org.za. Download the Application Forms, here: http://www.tinyurl.com/ydd2lae6

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Eye surgery gives a new lease on life

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The SANCB’s Bureau for the Prevention of Blindness performed 2 075 cataract operations, screened over 6000 people and dispensed more than 1 700 spectacles in the last financial year. The restoration of sight has a massive ripple-effect on patients, improving their self-esteem, sense of well-being and relationships. Two such patients are Dorothy Mlambo (55) from Kliptown and William Steenkamp (43) from Kenhardt. They were dismayed when cataracts left them with vision loss and compromised their ability to do their jobs. But thanks to cataract surgery, their vision has dramatically improved and they’re looking forward to returning to work and supporting their families. Diabetic Mavis Montshiwa (69) had bilateral cataract surgery at Joe Morolong Hospital in Vryburg and she’s thrilled with the results. “I can’t wait to cook for my grandchildren again. Thank you all.”

Thank you to all our donors, as well as sponsorships from Vodacom and LifeHealth, for making these life-changing cataract tours possible.

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Michael’s reaping the rewards of your kindness and support

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It’s not easy being a blind farmer – and it’s even harder when you’re farming alone. But Michael Manda Mafhege from Limpopo has refused to allow blindness to rob him of his dream of becoming a farmer.


And friends like you are helping the SANCB in assisting Michael to register his agribusiness. He also attended our social inclusion training initiative, “Start and Improve Your Business”, to gain business knowledge and skills.


At the moment Michael does everything himself, from planting seeds to watering the garden.
“For me, farming is not done with the eyes, but from the mind,” he says.


Michael started off small by fetching water from the street with a wheelbarrow to water his vegetable garden. He used the little money he earned from selling those crops to drill a borehole in his yard.


He approached his studies with the same determination. When glaucoma left him blind at the age of 20, he dropped out of school and studied matric part-time. It was incredibly difficult, because he didn’t have study material in an accessible format, and had no knowledge of braille. In the end, he managed to pass by listening to lessons on various radio stations.


Michael is now 40 and is married with three children. He wants to gain additional land to increase production, and acquire transport to get his produce to market.

His determination is paying off and in November 2016, he won an award for Best Disabled Subsistence Farmer from the Department of Agriculture.


Thank you for helping entrepreneurs like Michael to succeed and to help themselves!
 

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The RW Bowen Award 2016 goes to...

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The South African National Council for the Blind is pleased to announce that Mr Phillip Bam, former Executive Director and current Vice President of the League of Friends of the Blind (LOFOB) is the recipient of the RW Bowen Award 2016.

The RW Bowen Award is the highest honour bestowed by the SANCB for the lifelong meritorious service to the Blind Community. This prestigious award was presented by the SANCB Chairperson, Mr Lesibana Movundlela, at a special event held on 16 March at the LOFOB centre, Cape Town.

Mr Philip Bam has made major contributions in the blindness sector over the years, notably the development of the LOFOB services especially the Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme. LOFOB’s ECD programme was established 28 years ago and its impact is evident in the development of young blind adults now returning to LOFOB for further services. He served the SANCB as Vice Chairman and on many of its sub committees. He supported the then President of the World Blind Union, Dr William Rowland in his work at the United Nations to create the Convention On The Rights of Persons With Disabilities. Mr Bam was also instrumental in establishing a local blind women's forum to ensure that blind women had a voice in this sector. This later led to the establishment of the South African Blind Women in Action (SABWIA).

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