The main objective of Blind SA is to advocate for the basic human rights and accessible, equal, and inclusive services for blind and partially sighted people.
The Department of Basic Education and the Provincial Education Departments have failed to provide adequate resources, supervision, and oversight to blind and partially sighted learners during the National Lock Down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa.
The learners, almost the majority who live in residential hostel facilities were sent home without any Learner, Teacher, Support Materials (LTSM), assistive devices (braille writing equipment, low vision devices/magnifiers), and lesson plans.
The majority of learners come from the lower economic groups and these families are unable to purchase these specialised assistive devices and adapted technology.
The e-learning platforms the Departments produced were not accessible to these learners due to the formats not be accessible, no assistive devices, and adapted technology or availability of data.
The Special Schools have residential hostels where the school infrastructure is inadequate to accommodate all the learners in view of social distancing protocols. The hostels and classrooms may not be able to allow for all learners.
The Department promised to provide furnished mobile units to accommodate learners and there is no indication of this being undertaken.
Special Schools for the Blind received R15000 for deep cleaning and sanitising, a similar amount was provided to ordinary schools without residential hostel facilities. Prinshof School for the Blind and Partially Sighted for example received a quote of R101000 and had to use other school funds to pay for the service.
Schools for the Blind require additional human resources to assist with screening and additional responsibilities. There is no indication of these problems being solved.
Learners who are not returning to schools due to the above problems may not receive the accessible LTSM, assistive devices, and adapted technology since these resources are not available to them.
The biggest problem is that our schools for the blind are sometimes grouped with mainstream schools, because they use the same curriculum and sometimes we are grouped with the learners with Severely Intellectual Disability.
Chairperson: Blind SA Education and ECD
Mobile: 082 782 3429