National Society for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

National Society for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

The Rhodesian Society of the Blind and Physically Handicapped was found in Bulawayo in 1955 with the assistance of the British Empire Society for the Blind (later to be known as the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind and now Sight Savers International).

Sir John Wilson, the then Director of the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind recommended the co-ordination of voluntary organisations concerned with blindness. From this was born the Co-ordinating Committee for the Blind Welfare – the progenitor of the present Council for the Blind. Its constituent membership consisted of:

  • The National Society of the Blind and Physically handicapped
  • The Jairosi Jiri Association
  • Reformed Church in Zimbabwe (Capota School for the Blind)
  • Commandory of St John’s.

The focus of this “co-ordinating committee” then was on the prevention of blindness. As the education of the blind was already being catered for by the Jairos Jiri Association and the Capota School for the Blind, the committee concentrated on prevention and eye care. The committee “discovered” many more blind children of school-going age which led to the concept of open education where blind children are integrated in school together with their sighted counterparts.

In 1962, Mr Geoffrey Salisbury who was the then Education Officer of the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind was sent to Waddilove Training Institution where he introduced the new approach – open education.

At first the activities of the committee were confined to Matabeleland, but these were gradually extended, first to the Midlands, then to other Provinces. The geographical expansion was accompanied by an extension of activities to include the present four major fields:

  1. The prevention and eradication of blindness.
  2. Spectacle and eye drop production.
  3. Open Education.
  4. The rehabilitation programme.

In 1970 the rehabilitation programme was launched with the acquisition of a 25 acre plot in Masvingo and the sinking of a borehole there. The idea was to use this land as an agricultural training centre for the blind. A year later six families were resettled at Ngezi, near Plumtree.

After independence, it became known as the National Society for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. It is now known as the Zimbabwe Council for the Blind.

Cinderellas

Rhodesian Society for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
National Society for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

Reference

Contributors
  • Terry Cowlard
  • Terence Devine
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