More visually impaired persons to be equipped with essential life skills

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The Guyana Council of Organisations for Persons with Disabilities (GCOPD) in partnership with ExxonMobil Guyana on Friday launched Phase 2 of the Orientation and Mobility Programme for persons who are blind and visually impaired.

The programme aims to allow participants to travel safely and develop independent living skills and become valuable members of society.

This is the only programme in Guyana providing persons who are visually impaired with skills such as how to use a smartphone and computers, travel and basic household skills like cooking.

The second phase of the programme will be implemented in Regions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10.  Approximately 500 persons are expected to benefit and will also receive a white cane.

GCOPD’s Director, Ganesh Singh said they are working with the Georgetown Public Hospital and private eye clinics to get persons on board the training.

GCOPD Director Ganesh Singh (center) and Community Relations Advisor for ExxonMobil, Lashawna Prescott (right)

At the launch on Friday at the National Library in Georgetown, Singh said the programme has been in the works for some years now, but with the support from ExxonMobil, it materialized in 2022.

“Many people in the mainstream society are of the view that once you are blind or once you have a disability, you cannot do anything and basically sit at home and people take care of you. But that is not true, it is the total opposite, we are able to function like anyone else but we must be facilitated to do so,” Singh stated.

For those blind and visually impaired, the skills being taught are essential for day-to-day living. The team providing the training will include eight blind and visually impaired persons who are trained instructors.

“We made a special effort to provide employment for persons who are blind and visually impaired because we are basically killing two birds with one stone.

“These are the people in my view who are in the best position to teach someone who is blind or visually impaired the skills they need to know, they are teaching lived experiences, skills that they have used themselves,” Singh said.

Community Relations Advisor for ExxonMobil, Lashawna Prescott and Lata Devie

Lata Devie, visually impaired training instructor, hopes the training will dispel the stigma attached to persons with disabilities.

“Firstly I want to say thank you to GCOP and ExxonMobil for implementing this programme because of this I gained my first employment after acquiring my disability, so this has boosted my independence and confidence,” Devie said.

Meanwhile, Community Relations Advisor for ExxonMobil, Lashawna Prescott said the oil company recognised the need to develop, nurture and refine the skills of the visually impaired through early intervention to help them achieve more fulfilling lives.

“For persons living with challenges and visual impairment, having access to resources, information and support can be life changing not just for the individuals but for their families.”

 

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