The word "counseling" is very familiar to all of us today. However, counseling a low vision client is specific and a sensitive subject as it deals in majority the emotional aspects to a greater degree.
When a person is born irreversible blind naturally the person gets acclimatized to the environment and to the day to day activities. In the case of a person going blind or partially sighted after enjoying sight at the initial stages the trauma attached is so complicated mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally the first option they consider optional is suicide.
This is why in my opinion the person concerned should get into early counseling to accept the reality. Also they depend heavily on physical support from the peer groups and invariably reject any form of rehabilitations in all forms. Another aspect is their mental condition and stress factor which is very high and complicated. Imagine you been in this situation and your feelings and emotions.
I am an irreversible blind person and I know the trauma attached to it. Anyway, I have been counseling at the low vision clinic, Teaching Hospital, Kandy since 2004 as a volunteer and I am happy to extending my services with dedication and commitment. The first year saw ever 87 children and 127 adults with various degree of visual impairment.
The low vision clinic support the clients with low vision devices, where ever necessary and collaborate with department of education, department of social services and other peer groups so that the clients are able to carry out their basics tasks with minimum restrictions.
The team visits schools to monitor the progress of the students and offer facilities for them to continue their education in the main stream with least hassle.
In cases where necessary students are integrated to the schools for the blind to continue in Braille, some of the case studies conducted which I am not listing due to print restrictions but found in other articles are worth reading.
Unfortunately, the schools for the blind in the south of Sri Lanka have no tamil medium in Braille and the students are forced to take to the sinhala medium. Another negative factor is that a monitoring scheme is not in place once they leave the schools or the vocational training centers thus forcing the clients to take to begging as a means of sustainability.
My sincere wishes and appreciations are with the low vision clinics and pray that the staff attached to the units strength and guidance to fulfil their goals.
In conclusion our priority as worthy citizens of Sri Lanka is to treat the visually impaired as equal and allow them to attain self sustainability, dignity and self respect. Let us take a pledge to convert he myths and misunderstandings to reality.
Ms. Bisso Menike Grero,
media coordinator, WDC, Kandy,
Counsellor / review / evaluation team member
low vision clinic, Kandy