FOR A LIFETIME
Both David and Constance, blind of eye yet capa-ble, grew up to become fully functional individuals.
From coins he received and saved, David managed to pay his way through Braille lessons which en-abled him to read using his fingers. He went on to become a publisher for a newspaper in a small city. Constance, on the other hand, travelled as a com-panion of Beethoven as his trusted secretary and administrative assistant. Skills that were still in much demand long after the great composer had passed away.
Blind or deaf individuals saddled with another handicap – poverty, do not al-ways need charity as much as they need opportunities to make their way through life. There is a saying which goes, ” … if you give a fish to a man, he will eat for just that one day. But if you teach him how to fish, he will learn to feed himself for a lifetime.”
Faith in Families believes that, for a poverty-reduction strategy to deliver meaningful outcomes, training, education, job opportunities and allied social services must reach families having members who are blind, deaf, or both be-cause they tend to ‘fall through the chairs’, seldom getting the right form of attention and support they require at the right time to reach their full potentials. In this respect, they are an underserved population.
Based on statistics, it is estimated that over 250,000 New Zealanders are blind, deaf, blind and deaf or live with an eye or ear sensory limitation that cannot be corrected.
Given our small population, that number is dispro-portionately large.
ISSUES AND STRATEGY
This also explains, to a large extent, why we have a Minister for Disability Issues and a New Zealand Disability Strategy, the latter being underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The Office for Disability Issues, established in July 2002, is a strategic ‘whole-of-government’ focused policy group within the Ministry of Social Development. It functions mostly as a focal point in government on disability issues and provides dedicated policy support for the Minister in question, who is not responsible for implementing the New Zealand Disability Strategy.
Instead, all government departments are required to develop annual New Zealand Disability Strategy implementation work plans that specify actions each department will take to implement the Strategy. If you want to read more details about this Strategy, you can download an easy-to-read PDF version copy here.
The Office also works closely with the disability community, a wide range of disability sector organisations and provides support options. The current Minis-ter for Disability Issues is Hon. Tariana Turia. The current Associate Minister for Disability Issues is Hon. Pansy Wong.
HEALTH STATSTICS DATABASE
Six years ago, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and a partner, the LIONS Clubs International Foundation, launched a worldwide project to prevent and cure most of the diseases that cause poor vision in children. That programme has benefited more than 100 million children so far, and increased access to eye care in 30 countries. The WHO photo story describes efforts and shares some country-level results from 2004 to 2009.