Hope for visually impaired rural people

Hope for visually impaired rural peopleBlind student doing her lessons. (File Photo. Credit: Flickr/ Mark Lennox)

LIMPOPO – Despite most public libraries now offering hope to visually impaired people through the South African Libraries For The Blind Project, many blind people in rural areas remain unemployed with limited opportunities.

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Speaking during the project activation at the Thulamela Public Library, in Thohoyandou, the director of library services in the province, Collins Thovhakale, said disabled people are still overlooked when they apply for employment. The result is a high rate of unemployment among the disabled. He said the project should be used to empower disabled people by offering them jobs.

“Disabled people in the province are not being considered for proper employment despite having good qualifications. Most of our libraries lack librarians yet we have so many people who are qualified for the job,” said Thovhakale.

The project will afford visually impaired people an opportunity to be able to read books and access information online with ease through the installation of computers designed specifically for visually impaired people.

“In most cases, we only think of disabled people when we want to host events to celebrate their disabilities. But when it comes to serious issues like unemployment we do not consider them. People with disabilities must be employed in high numbers and they must be given first preference when they apply for jobs,” he said.

Proper qualifications

The spokesperson for the disabled people in Vhembe, Ndishavhelafhi Mphaphuli said most educated disabled people have proper qualifications, but they continue to sit at home without jobs.

“We also need proper jobs as we have our own needs. But it seems like people are not prepared to hire us as we are only offered short-term contracts which are not enough to sustain us. We have been complaining about this issue for years,” said Mphaphuli.

He added: “The only solution we can use to create jobs for ourselves is to start our own businesses as it seems like it’s the only way out of this situation which we find ourselves in.”

CEO of South African Library for the Blind, Francois Hendrikz, said that people with visual impairment should be treated with the same rights as normal people.

“We all have the right to access information and this project gives that opportunity to blind people,” he said.

An edited copy of this story was published by Health24.