Give the blind opportunities, not handouts, says man who lost his sight as a child

23 October 2020 - 07:00
December Nkosi, who lost his eyesight as a child 34 years ago, would like to see blind people working productively instead of relying on government grants. From left are Ben Mabuza, Paytronix director, December Nkosi, founder of the Mbombela Blind Association and Fanie Msiza, director at Mbombela Blind Association.
December Nkosi, who lost his eyesight as a child 34 years ago, would like to see blind people working productively instead of relying on government grants. From left are Ben Mabuza, Paytronix director, December Nkosi, founder of the Mbombela Blind Association and Fanie Msiza, director at Mbombela Blind Association.
Image: Provided

A Mpumalanga man who lost his eyesight 34 years ago as a pupil, would like to see blind people afforded more career opportunities instead of relying on government grants.

December Nkosi's dream may soon materialise after a donation of five computers and office space for the Mbombela Blind Association in the province by Paytronix this week.

Nkosi established the association in 2013  after realising the need to upskill the blind in his area. His organisation has since been a beacon of hope.

“I was a volunteer at a disability centre that catered for people living with different kinds of disabilities. As a person who has been blind for my entire adult life, I recognised that the needs of the blind were unique yet not fully catered for.

“I wanted to expose the blind community to the opportunities that are made possible by technology. Through technology, blind people can be fully computer literate and that opens doors to not only career prospects, but also independence — relying less on others for day-to-day assistance”, he said.

Paytronix has pledged to pay the annual rental costs to help the association obtain professional and secure facilities.

Nkosi’s vision came to life through Mpumalanga business veteran advocate Eric Mabuza, chair of Zamani Holdings, Paytronix’s parent company.

“When we heard about the Mbombela Blind Association and how they are looking to use technology to change and improve lives, we instantly visualised this and as a technology- driven company, we knew it was possible. We have installed the necessary software in the machines we donated, including JAWS, a computer screen reader program that allows blind and visually impaired users to read the screen either with a text-to-speech output or by a refreshable Braille display, which is an electromechanical device for displaying Braille characters.

“We are confident that this initiative will improve the quality of life within the blind community of Mpumalanga”, said Busisiwe Msizi, head of corporate relations.  

The handover ceremony which was held in Nelspruit on Monday, was attended by residents, both blind and sighted, as well as a Mpumalanga department of social development representative, who pledged support for the initiative.

Nkosi  expressed gratitude for the donation, saying blind people were capable of being technologically savvy.

“My dream is to see every blind person able to comprehend messages received on their mobile phones without any help, to be able to withdraw their own money from an ATM machine with no help. My dream is to see more career opportunities opened to blind people, and less dependence on government grants. We are capable”, he said.

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