NEWLY founded Association of the Blind Visually Impairment Solomon Islands aims to give hope to the people living with the blind in the country.

Association’s President, Desmond Suiga said the vision to establish the Association was based on the years of neglect towards people living with blind and visual loss in the Solomon Islands.

“The Association was established this year (2020) with the primary objective to support people with the status of blind and visual impairment in the Solomon Islands,” the President said.

He said the initiative was to help the government, international partners and stakeholders recognize the population of blind and visually impaired (people living with disabilities) in the country.

“The Association aims to give voice to people living with a disability (blind and visually impairment) and to support their future plans and aspirations in the country,” said Desmond. “The association aims to provide capacity building, advocacy, and empowerment for people living with blindness and also provide a strategic platform for us to engage with stakeholders and government in all levels of development in the country.”

Desmond Suiga said the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a huge impact on the social and economic livelihood of the marginalized and people living with the blind in the society.

“Financial constraints or hardship to deal with the pandemic especially to support the basic livelihood of people with blind and their family,” he said.

He said the impact of the pandemic could be catastrophic for people living with blind and visual impairment if they have no access to COVID-19 life-saving information (precautionary and preparedness).

“COVID-19 awareness is very instrumental to help people living with blind and visually impaired to understand the precautionary and preparedness measures and the COVID-19 government regulations on how to cope with the pandemic.

“Information should be accessible through mobile phone audio (talking mobile phones), brail designed pamphlets and radio awareness.

He said the importance of providing training for the blind on how to use hand washing or hygiene tools are vital.

“People living with blind need practical and hands-on training on how to use handwashing tools and other hygienic kits.”