The St. Lucia Blind Welfare Association (SLBWA) is celebrating Blindness Awareness Month (BAM) 2021; though not in the usual manner. The organization continues to be responsive to the Covid-19 protocols and the resultant ‘new normal’. The month of observance will focus on survival and falls under the broad theme of – “Re-grouping; Rebuilding; Remaining”.
During the month of recognition, the SLBWA will continue to educate and sensitize the public on eye health and the prevention of blindness, and begin activities to decentralize the Association’s services. According to officials, the SLBWA has recognized that its constituents were greatly affected during the zoning in 2020, which had been implemented to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.
During this time, access to services was also decreased, thus taking a toll on the membership. There are also plans set in motion for the beautification of the Association’s office building, in order to uplift the surroundings and transform the headquarters into a more workplace-friendly environment.
Other items on the SLBWA’s packed programme throughout May, include the commencement of phase two of the mapping and registration of blind and vision-impaired persons in Saint Lucia. Phase one of this exercise which concluded in September 2020, captured over 600 new individuals and has been listed as a significant success by the SLBWA.
Training and building of capacity for sustained livelihoods remain a centrepiece of the organization’s ongoing mandate. As such, there will be the continuation of the low vision training series and the strengthening of the capacity of the Eye Health Unit of the SLBWA.
At the core of the many concerns of the organization is the impact of the pandemic on the blind and visually impaired in the society. The SLBWA will bring virtual panel discussions to the public in an effort to highlight and unpack pressing issues impacting the blind and vision impaired, such as employment, housing, personal safety, among others.
The public will be notified ahead of each virtual discussion so that they could participate and follow the awareness efforts of the Saint Lucia Blind Welfare Association.