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Visually-impaired seek gov’t help with printed material

There are a number of organisations working for and on behalf of persons with disabilities. To raise awareness, Catholic News will highlight the work being done by these organisations in coming issues. We begin with The Trinidad and Tobago Blind Welfare Association (TTBWA) which provided an update on their activities.

About the Association

The work for the blind started on May 18, 1914 by the late James A Alves under the name of “Institute for the Blind” in Trinidad & Tobago. On June 13, 1947 the name was changed to its present by an act of Parliament.

The Association has a commitment to assist blind and visually impaired persons in coping with the problems that result from limited vision, failing vision and total blindness.

It is a nonprofit, voluntary rehabilitation organisation that receives funding from private contributions, bouquets, deeds of covenant, annual financial campaigns and from government.

Women and Glaucoma

During the month of March, the world observed both International Women’s Day and World Glaucoma Week. Therefore, the TTBWA will like to place special emphasis on Glaucoma among women.

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve which is vital for good vision; this damage is often caused by an abnormally high pressure in the eyes.

Although glaucoma has no cure, it can be treated in order to maintain vision or prevent total blindness. However approximately 10 per cent of people with glaucoma who receive proper treatment still experience loss of vision.

Research has shown that women are more susceptible to glaucoma for various health-related issues such as late menarche, during pregnancy and early menopause.

Hence, the Association would like to bring awareness to this concern and urge women to have their eyes tested annually or biannually as recommended depending on their age as early diagnosis and treatment can prevent blindness.

Cultural inclusion

In keeping with the Carnival spirit, the TTBWA held a Soca Monarch competition during the month of February for the members of the blind and vision impaired community. An invitation was extended to the general public to share this experience with the Association.

The main objective of this event was to increase public sensitisation and awareness regarding blindness through promoting the talent of persons who are blind or vision impaired.

Additionally members of this community were given an opportunity to explore their talent and play an integral role in cultural diversity. Furthermore, vendors who are blind or vision impaired were also afforded the opportunity to engage in microenterprise.

The feedback received from the esteemed judging panel was one of awe, as they were amazed by the immense talent that graced the stage. Furthermore, there was an overwhelming support from the general public as they made up the majority of the viewing audience. The Association can safely say that we met our objective which was to expose the talents of persons who are blind or vision impaired.


As the nation’s students prepared for the Secondary Entrance Assessment, Kishon Pierre, a student of the School for Blind Children was amongst them. However, being successful at the exams is just a minor hurdle Kishon would have to encounter.

He has a long journey of uncertainty and challenges ahead of him as accessible learning materials is a major barrier among students  who are blind or vision impaired in Trinidad and Tobago.

The TTBWA would like to highlight that supportive parents, trained teachers and accessible learning materials are three of the most critical elements needed in order for a child who is blind or vision impaired to be successful at school.

Therefore, the Association is calling on the Government to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty and amend the Copy Right Act to make printed materials accessible to the print disabled as this will increase educational opportunities for students who are blind or vision impaired.

Women are more susceptible to glaucoma for various health-related issues.

The Association is calling on the Government to make printed materials accessible to the print disabled.