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Daan van Niekerk
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Daan is unstoppable

What’s your most treasured possession? Perhaps it’s a vintage Dinky car, or a delicate cut-glass vase? For 75-year-old Daan van Niekerk, it’s his white cane. And when he’s holding his cane, Daan is unstoppable.

That’s why, with White Cane Week just around the corner, we’re hoping we can count on your goodwill to provide more visually impaired persons with this life-changing device by making your donation online here.

Daan was born fully sighted but caught measles as a boy, which left him totally blind by 18. It was only in 1972, after he’d been blind for over 10 years, that he started using a cane.

Now, he simply can’t imagine life without one.

And your donation, made today, will extend this treasured gift to more blind and partially sighted persons.

Thanks to this irreplaceable mobility tool – along with assistive devices such as a liquid level indicator, tactile measuring tape and talking calculator – Daan leads an active life filled with accomplishments.

He has no problem navigating a busy shopping mall, fetching the mail or hopping on a bus.

And while Daan has a white cane, a lot of people can’t afford one.

But your gift – made online by clicking here – will give more visually impaired persons the tools they need to follow in Daan’s footsteps.

Daan is a retired father of three and lives in Pretoria with his wife Lettie, who’s also blind. He retired from the SANCB in 2005, after heading up our Vocational Training Division for many years.

He remains deeply committed to blind individuals of all ages; and he and Lettie started a voluntary project to equip newly-blind people with skills of independent living, such as typing, braille and indoor cane use.

Daan loves to give back to the blind community – and we know you do too! So please, can we count on your kindness and online donation today, to put adventure and accomplishments within reach of blind persons? Thank you!
 

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A Child's Human Right ...

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Photo of a child playing with a Braillin doll
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... to Education

South Africa celebrated Human Rights Day on 21 March 2017. Although we have come a long way as a country, some fundamental rights as stipulated in our constitution have not yet been fulfilled.

Of an estimated 18 750 000 children in South Africa, it is estimated that around 11.2% have some form of a disability. Only around 2 out of 10 visually impaired children are reported to currently be admitted to school, compared to the ratio of children without disabilities which stands at 8:10. Many of those who are attending school, do not receive the support and reasonable accommodation which would allow for them to gain a quality education.

This short animated video illustrates the backlog in the education of visually impaired children's education.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Without a proper education, these children cannot gain knowledge and skills to prepare them for employment. If this backlog is not addressed now, in a few years we may potentially have more than 1 million persons of school leaving age who have been denied the opportunity to reach their potential, to live independent lives and to maintain a sustainable livelihood.

As part of our mandate, the SANCB has created the Leave No Child Behind campaign, of which the objective is to ensure that all blind and partially sighted children are identified and admitted to school at an early age. We aim to do this through advocacy and monitoring of compulsory registration of visually impaired children in accessible learning centers across South Africa. The campaign will also ensure that there are adequate learning materials and assistive devices such as Braille textbooks and Perkins Braillers in these centers.

If you would like to support this campaign, please contact our Fund Development Officer on 012 452 3811 or send an e-mail to fdo1@sancb.org.za.

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International Women's Day

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Left to right, top to bottom: Helen Keller, Diane Schuur, Trischa Zorn Hudson an
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8 March 2017 marks International Women’s Day and the theme for this year’s campaign is "Be Bold For Change".


On this day we are reminded of the many determined women who, despite visual impairment, were bold enough to lead the way in bringing about inspiration and hope for others by challenging biases and stereotypes. A few of the many examples include the following:

 

  • The well-known author, activist and lecturer Helen Keller, the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree, as well as being a champion for the rights of women and workers.
  • Swimmer, educator and lawyer Trischa Zorn Hudson, who is understood to be the most successful athlete in the history of the Paralympic Games, where she won numerous medals for swimming. Formerly a teacher to learners with disabilities, she developed an inclusionary teaching model which encourages greater integration with fellow learners in the classroom, allowing for richer learning opportunities and experiences. She became an attorney and is currently working with war veterans as Legal Instrument Examiner at the US Department of Veterans Affairs, where she helps people in need of legal assistance.
  • Jazz musician Diane Schuur, who won a number of Grammy nominations and awards; worked with musicians such as Barry Manilow, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonders; and performed at many prominent music venues, including Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and the White House. Click here to visit her website, where the music is playing in the background.
  • Abolitionist and humanitarian Harriet Tubman (1822-1930) escaped from slavery and proceeded to save approximately seventy enslaved families and friends. During the American Civil war she was a scout and spy for the United States, and later became an active participant in the struggle for women’s suffrage. Later in life she established the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged, to care for elderly people in need.

These are just a few examples of women with visual impairments who had the courage to not only rise above their own situations, but to also make a difference in the lives of others. Their successes serve as inspiration and beacons of hope to others.


Although great strides have been made to advance the status of women in the world, this progress does not always extend to women with disabilities, those who are visually impaired. Globally, visually impaired women still face a mountain of social, economic and political challenges. In South Africa they often face a double dose of discrimination – gender- and disability based. As a result, they are often denied access to education, and consequently employment. For instance, the global literacy rate for women with disabilities is estimated to be as low as 1% (only between 5 – 10% of the total blind population is braille literate), and women with disabilities were found to be only half as likely to be employed compared to their male counterparts.


Therefore, on International Women’s Day, the SANCB would not only like to celebrate the many successful women who have already made a difference in the lives of others, but also want to urge our members and supporters to follow in their footsteps, and to #BeBoldForChange. Let us actively work towards bettering the plight of the many blind and partially sighted girls and women who are denied the opportunity to take up their rightful place in society.
We invite all government departments, the private sector, and individuals to join us in the undertaking to ensure the educational and economic inclusion of visually impaired girls and women. If you would like to contribute by offering support with regards to education, employment opportunities or our community based self-help groups, please contact us.
 

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Thank you for helping to restore the precious gift of sight

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Photo of Johannes “Boet” Koetzee, an elderly cataract patient with an eye patch
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A group of visually impaired patients had an eye-opening experience at Job Shimankana Tabane Hospital in Rustenburg last year, when our medical team performed an impressive 40 cataract operations in one tour.


That’s 20 sight restoration operations a day, for two days! None of these life-changing procedures would have been possible without the support of our trusty donor community. Thank you!


Among the 40 patients was 73-year-old Johannes “Boet” Koetzee, who travelled from Johannesburg for surgery in his left eye. Johannes had his right-eye cataract removed eight years ago and was very excited to return to have his left eye attended to.


Another patient was 15-year-old Nkosinamandla. “Before, I felt sad and hopeless. But now I am very excited. I can see clearly and I can’t wait to play soccer after I heal,” he said happily.


Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in SA. They can be treated, but thousands of people are needlessly blind because they find it so difficult to access medical treatment . . . and because provincial hospitals have long waiting lists.


The SANCB’s Bureau for the Prevention of Blindness performs this valuable outreach service with the support of our donors.
But we urgently need funding to continue their cataract-busting efforts!


So if you’d like to help us restore the gift of sight, please contact the SANCB on 012 452 3811 or admin@sancb.org.za. Thank you!
 

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Help us beat the budget blues

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Fundraising is one of the SANCB’s most important and most difficult activities. A monthly commitment from donors, made either by EFT or debit order, would enable the SANCB to better budget and plan the sponsorship of Optima students.

For more information on monthly giving, please contact us on 012 452 3811.

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Children living with blindness

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Zinokhanyo Nyangule and a Perkins Brailler
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When Zinokhanyo Nyangule was just a baby, doctors discovered she had retinoblastoma.

The cancer was advanced – and I’m sad to say that the surgery instantly left Zinokhanyo with permanent blindness. It was a terribly confusing time for this little girl.

But with the support from friends like you, we can help Zinokhanyo – and more blind children –grow into confident adults.

Please will you make your online donation here so we can continue to uplift young people living with blindness?

Zinokhanyo’s nearly eight now and attends a school for the blind. Even though she needed a Perkins brailler to continue learning at a fast pace, her parents couldn’t afford one.

And they worried that without it, her development would slow down.

Your support here will give more blind children the devices they need to succeed ... like braillers, folding white canes, pyramid clocks, braille rulers and coin selectors.

So please make your contribution here and give them a better chance of getting through school, and beyond.

But timing’s of the essence –when children learn to read braille in primary school, they read much better than when they learn it later in life.

That’s why we’re helping Zinokhanyo as quickly as possible. Our Resource Centre donated a refurbished brailler, braille paper, a talking calculator and a white cane to her.

We wish you could’ve seen her face when she received her gifts. She was so excited and is writing non-stop!

Please make your donation here today ... because there are few things more valuable to a blind child than education.


Zinokhanyo Nyangule and family

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Your support will give hope

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Picture of Adele La Grange typing on a Perkins Brailler
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For many years, 44-year-old Adele La Grange knew something was going horribly wrong with her vision. She was finding it harder and harder to focus.

But she kept it a secret, fearing she’d lose her job as a bookkeeper. Adele struggled to cope . . . alone, afraid and confused.

That’s why we’re hoping you’ll join Illuminé – kind friends who send an extra gift over and above their year-round support.

When Adele went to a specialist two years ago, she was diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease, an inherited condition that usually leads to blindness.

Adele can’t drive anymore and has difficulty reading. She’s also lost her job. What’s worse, she doesn’t know how far the disease will progress. We’re sure you can understand how devastated Adele feels.

But thanks to the kind people who support Optima College, Adele’s realised there’s light at the end of the tunnel. And if you make your donation here, you can help us do so much more!

Adele enrolled at Optima College in January and can now use a computer, read braille and walk with a white cane. Her skills are vastly improving and her husband and daughter feel much happier about their future.

“Optima staff helped me realise that turning blind isn’t the end of the world. Now I know I have a future. I want to work to help pay the bills, and to feel I have self-worth,” she says.

After her Introduction to Computers course, Adele wants to study Call Centre training, so she can find a job at a call centre. And if you make your donation now, we’ll do our utmost to help Adele fulfil her dream.

So can we encourage you to join our circle of Illuminé supporters here – and offer hope and a fulfilling life to more visually impaired students? 

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Test your knowledge of blindness

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How much do you really know about the world’s leading cause of blindness? Take this quick quiz and see for yourself:

 

 

  1. What is the leading cause of blindness?  A) Cataract. B) Glaucoma. C) Diabetic retinopathy.
  2. How is glaucoma cured?  A) With medication. B) With surgery and/ or medication. C) There’s no cure.
  3. Who is most at risk for glaucoma?  A) People of all ages. B) Senior citizens. C) Babies and young adults.
  4. What are the warning signs of glaucoma?  A) Pain from increased eye pressure. B) Loss of side vision. C) There can be no warning signs.

Answers: 

1. B) Glaucoma. Glaucoma can cause blindness if left untreated.
2. C) There is no cure for glaucoma. And vision lost cannot be regained. With medication and/or surgery, it’s possible to halt further loss of vision.
3. A) Everyone’s at risk for glaucoma, from babies to senior citizens.
4. C) There may be no warning symptoms. With open-angle glaucoma, the most common form, there are virtually no symptoms. Diagnosis is the first step to protect your sight from glaucoma. So get tested – and begin treatment immediately if you have it.
 

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Getting around with a little help from our friends

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Orientation and Mobility (O&M) students
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Orientation and Mobility (O&M) is a crucial skill for visually impaired people, empowering them to live independent, enriched lives.

We offer O&M training to all students at Optima College, orientating them to the various buildings, streets and shops on and around campus. Students also learn Activities of Daily Living, including ATM skills, home management, personal management and money identification.

It’s wonderful to see how these skills allow a nervous and insecure student to blossom into a confident adult, capable of going happily and safely about their lives.
 

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With your help, white canes work their ‘magic’

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Deidre Roderigues
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Our annual drive to raise funds to provide assistive devices in April seems to have come and gone in the blink of an eye – but what a success it was, thanks to the support of our donors.

Deidre Roderigues, who has glaucoma with minimal light perception, first started using a white cane in 1989 during orientation and mobility training at Optima College. It was a training course that literally broadened her horizons – helping to turn her faltering footsteps into a confident walk.

“Walking into obstacles all the time was very unpleasant. When I started using a white cane, I developed a remarkable sense of confidence. I could manoeuvre around obstacles and find my own way around my home and neighbourhood. I became far less reliant on my family and friends,” Deidre recalls.

We extend a sincere “thank you” to all our donors, for bringing white canes, assistive devices and skills training to people with visual impairments, both within and beyond the borders of SA.

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