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Visio takes steps to ensure holistic development of visually impaired children in Ghana

Teachers and Ophthalmic Nurses drawn from the northern and southern part of the country recently underwent a five-day training on early detection of visual impairment among children between the ages of zero to six years in the country.

The training sought to, among other things, ensure that partially sighted and blind children in the country are detected early, get proper assessment and receive early childhood development services.

The workshop was put together by Visio International, a non-governmental organization based in the Netherlands that supports persons with visual impairments in the areas of education, care and rehabilitation.

Other collaborators of the programme include the Presbyterian Health Service of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Special Education Division of the Ghana Education Service, Department of Children at the Ministry of Gender, children and Social Protection and the National Eye Care Unit of the Ghana Health Service.

Addressing participants at the opening of the workshop at Koforidua in the Eastern Region, Mr Jeremiah Badu-Shayer, Country Coordinator for the Visio Programme, said the training is to help the participants to establish referral system for early and appropriate referral of children identified in their communities with eye challenges.

Mr Badu-Shayer indicated that some of these cases require early detection so that the problem could be rectified, however, due to the lack of knowledge, the problems have been neglected leading to aggravation of the situations.

He said the programme would result in more children being able to perform similar to their peers without visual impairment when it comes to their social-emotional development, participation and school achievement.

“We aim to reach this through empowering them their care givers, professionals and the communities they live in,” he added.

Mr Bert Van Der Waal, the Programme Manager of Visio International, said the workshop was to help the participants to identify early, children with visual impairment problems for support so that, they can join the main stream education system from the early ages and  progress gradually through the educational system.

He said his outfit wants to ensure that children with visual impairment can live a normal life, socialize and play with their other colleagues without being neglected.

The Programme Manager advised the beneficiaries of the training to form a group in their various municipalities and districts with other stakeholders to organize better care for children in their areas.

Dr James Addy, Head of the Eye Care Unit of the Ghana Health Service, said the age limit was selected because it has been realized that there is a gap in the treatment of children with eye challenges between the ages of zero to six years.

He said now that the country is promoting inclusive education, there is no need for children with such cases to end up in the schools for the blind but be encouraged to be part of the normal school system.

On her part, Ms Joan Kafui, the Special Education Coordinator at La Dadakotopon Municipal Education office, who was a participant at the workshop said the training has shown them how to manage and train such children with special educational needs as well as nurture them.

According to her, the Workshop made participants to understand that even before one can manage such children, one needs to show them love, empathy and acceptance to be able to understand them better to provide the needed service.

Royal Dutch Visio has the mission to enable people with visual impairment to participate. This is done by continuing to develop, test, secure and share knowledge about (life with) a visual impairment as much as possible, nationally and internationally.

 

 By Mohammed Suleman

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