Sustainable funding channels necessary to help the visually impaired

Some private institutions, within the framework of their social responsibility commitments, make efforts to support differently-abled members of society. Their aim is to provide a voice to these people, so they can be heard by the concerned authorities who in turn must do their part in sustaining the work of institutions dedicated to their welfare.

One such organization is “Al-Oyoun Newspaper and Platform” which has organized a number of events and activities over the past years to understand the problems facing disabled members of the communities, including those challenged by vision, hearing, movement and other infirmities. Recently, the organization conducted a forum, titled “Oman for the Care of the Blind”, that aimed to provide sustainable support for the programmes of associations caring for disabled members of the communities. The aim was the get corporates to support these associations through fixed contributions within the framework of corporate social responsibility (CSR) obligations.

Today, there are an estimated 25,000 vision-impaired people in the Sultanate of Oman, according to details shared at the forum. Some of them were born with this disability, while other lost their sight due to certain diseases. All these people need continuous services, especially since most of them aspire to an education and to have academic degrees. However, many of them are waiting for job opportunities so they can be independent.

In the forum, all those who recited the Holy Quran and made presentations or took part in the panel discussions were blind, but they distinguished themselves nevertheless. They were able to shed light on their issues and highlight the challenges they face in society.

A key point of discussion was the kind of work that can be provided to them in governmental and private institutions, given their fluency in Arabic and other languages, ability to use computers, Braille equipment and other devices. In this regard, the forum proposed the construction of a suitable building to cater to the needs of the visually impaired at a cost of RO 316,000.

While some private sector institutions continue to extend financial support to them, the Ministry of Social Development continues to rely on well-established professional associations to come up with sustainable financial channels to support these organisation. This requires community members and commercial institutions to find other alternatives for financial sustainability for them to continue covering the costs of education, training, equipment purchases, white cane, Braille Sense and customized smartphones and prosthetic devices that they need.

It also requires members of society to communicate with the blind, present their creativity, ideas and suggestions, and involve them in the responsible committees in the state to address their issues, as they are closer than others in searching for the required solutions. One of the ideas put forward in the forum was that some Omani families could adopt a blind person to cover their annual needs to alleviate their daily suffering.

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