KZN Blind and Deaf Society
KwaZulu-Natal Blind and Deaf Society provides a range of services to blind, partially-sighted, deaf, hard-of-hearing, and deaf-blind people in Durban and its surroundings, Chatsworth, Pinetown, Umlazi, Amanzimtoti and Durban South, Inanda, KwaMashu, Ntezuma, Phoenix, Verulam, Tongaat, Kwa Dekuza, Pietermaritzburg and Zululand. The Society’s work is substantially improving the lives of our clients, contributing to their development and independence.
The Society provided wider social work services than the counselling and assessment services described earlier. All our clients who are in need are counselled in relation to family matters, employment issues and on any other issue that has an impact on our clients leading healthy, happy and productive lives. There are many matters which potentially stand in the way of this objective.
Working with Deafblind as well as Deaf and Blind people with other disabilities is as complex and sensitive as it is vital. We provide stimulation programmes for children with these disabilities as well as a parent support programme. We also facilitate their placement in special educational institutions.
The Society’s Independence Skills Programme highlights the fact that losing sight does not automatically mean losing independence or access to social or economic activities. An important aspect of the work for Blind and Partially-Sighted people is to ensure that they have a complete understanding of space and can manage it through mobility and orientation training. Independence skills training (which includes Skills of Daily Living, Orientation and Mobility and Community Based Rehabilitation) together with appropriate support, encouragement, and resources, enables visually impaired persons to develop their full potential with an enriched life.
Parents are counselled to ensure that they send their children with Deafness and Blindness related disabilities to schools to be educated. We then render social work services to children at schools who are about to leave school concerning career prospects. When they leave school we provide services in ensuring their further education, receive tertiary education, skills training, and ultimately job placement. An important aspect of the work as far as Blind and Partially-Sighted people are concerned, is to ensure that they have a complete understanding of space and can manage it through mobility and orientation training. As far as our Deaf and hard of hearing clients are concerned, we need to ensure that they are familiar with Sign Language and that Sign Language interpreter support is available to them wherever they go, but particularly in the work place.
High levels of unemployment prove to be a particularly difficult hurdle for persons with disabilities to overcome. The KZNBDS places a strong emphasis on the placement of Blind and Deaf persons in the open labour market, and has therefore developed a Job Placement Portfolio for this purpose. Employment Equity legislation also provides opportunities for the economic integration of disabled persons into the main stream.
Our clients like others in society must take part in sport. The Society has employed 1 sport co-ordinator to do this work one each to help people with Blind related and Deaf related disabilities respectively. We mention Blind Cricket and Goal ball for blind people, as well as soccer, netball and volleyball for people who are Deaf.
In order to prevent hearing loss or to cure it wherever possible, we ensure that hard of hearing people receive audio logical services and are able to access hearing aids. The Ear and Audiology Testing Centre opened in June 2015.
We prevent visual loss and ensure maximum use of existing vision by referring people to appropriate ophthalmologist. In addition, we offer optometric and low vision testing at our Society premises.
Our advocacy work includes attempting to ensure that all our clients are treated with dignity and respect by other members of society and are not discriminated against. What we do here is educating government as well as our clients’ families, friends, employers, associates, service providers of the potential of our clients, their humanity and their needs.
The Society has in place a well-recognized and established early indication program for ECD centers, funded by First rand. This has been successful in addressing the challenges faced by children with disabilities in accessing education. Engagement with the network of mainstream ECD’s that the Society has already established relationships with, to implement parent networks for the establishment of support structures and awareness, would further enhance the delivery of services, in particular the referral system to audiology, optometry, sign language, independence training and social work services.
KZN Blind and Deaf Society
Academy of Learning
We run an Academy of Learning providing education and training for people who suffer Blindness and Deafness disabilities later in life or who for some reason have not been able to go to school. Training includes computer literacy training, Braille literacy and South African Sign Language literacy training
Computer literacy is an essential skill that can be instilled into Blind, Deaf and Deafblind clients, enabling them to pursue Call Centre, CCTV and other technology-based training.
This programme is designed to enable Blind, Deafblind and Partially-Sighted people to read and write Braille, thereby improving their access to information.
It is imperative to teach deaf learners how to use sign language as sooner rather than later. The course has also been adapted for delivery to the hearing public who wish to learn Sign Language. This facilitates effective communication between the hearing students and their Deaf companions. The purpose of this course is to improve the status of SASL as an intellectual and academic means of acquiring and developing knowledge amongst the hearing impaired. The Society offers Sign language classes on a Saturday for a fee of R 1600.
The Society has 3 sheltered workshops: Basketry, Assembly and Sewing, which offers an avenue to provision clients with valuable skills and opportunities to alleviate some of the issues alluded to in the job placement priority area.
Hydroponics has been operating since 2002 and has been very successful. The Tunnels was donated by the Divine Life Society of S.A. The Hydrophonic Project has been introduced by the PRC to engage the Blind and Deaf persons in the various functions within the project, to develop skills.
This is a project that has seen tremendous growth and sustainability since its inception. The project, now in its 20th year of operation, is one of the more successful projects in the province. Income generated from the project helps to service the programs and services offered to the Blind and Deaf. The project also provides our Blind and Deaf Clients with therapeutic benefits.
More disabled clients of the Society are engaged in the project. Produce off the tunnels are marketed to local retailers.