Jamaica Society for the Blind Opens Vision Resource Centre

Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson Their Excellences, the Most Hon. Governor-General, Sir Patrick Allen (left), and Lady Allen (second left), cut the ribbon to symbolise the official opening of the Jamaica Society for the Blind’s (JSB) Low Vision Resource Centre at its Old Hope Road location in St. Andrew on January 26. Also pictured at right is Ambassador of Japan to Jamaica, His Excellency, Masanori Nakano.

Story Highlights

  • Jamaicans with low vision can now benefit from the services offered by the Jamaica Society for the Blind’s (JSB) newly constructed resource centre, which will treat with this condition.
  • The JSB Low Vision Resource Centre, which was built at a cost of $25 million, was officially opened by Governor-General, his Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen during a ceremony at the facility’s location at 111 ½ Old Hope Road St. Andrew on January 26.
  • “It is our strong hope that this new facility will contribute significantly to the protection of people with high risk of weak sight and no vision and moreover enable them to fulfil their dream of a better tomorrow with hope, despite any challenges or impediments,” he said.

Jamaicans with low vision can now benefit from the services offered by the Jamaica Society for the Blind’s (JSB) newly constructed resource centre, which will treat with this condition.

Low vision is a significant reduction of visual function that cannot be fully corrected by glasses, contact lenses, medical treatment or surgery. Low vision can result from a variety of diseases and injuries that affect the eye.

The JSB Low Vision Resource Centre, which was built at a cost of $25 million, was officially opened by Governor-General, his Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen during a ceremony at the facility’s location at 111 ½ Old Hope Road St. Andrew on January 26.

In his remarks, the Governor General said he is confident that the visually impaired and those with low vision “will be able to receive a welcome boost and see new horizons for themselves, as they make full use of these facilities”.

“I trust that this will be a source of pleasure, economic and social value to those who will use its resources,” he said.

The Governor-General, who is also Patron of the Society, further noted that with this centre, the JSB “has created another point of light which can guide more of our citizens into a brighter future”.

The Government of Japan was a major sponsor of the project, and provided $11 million in donation through its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project.

Ambassador of Japan to Jamaica, his Excellency, Masanori Nakano, said this was in keeping with the Japanese Government’s ongoing support to improve the lives of persons with disabilities in Jamaica.

“It is our strong hope that this new facility will contribute significantly to the protection of people with high risk of weak sight and no vision and moreover enable them to fulfil their dream of a better tomorrow with hope, despite any challenges or impediments,” he said.

For her part, Executive Director of the JSB, Lola Marson, lamented that services for persons diagnosed with low vision in Jamaica was “virtually non-existent”, hence the need for a resource centre “to ensure that low vision services are available, affordable and accessible to those who are in need”.

Services to be offered at the centre include assessment of low vision needs, prescribing appropriate low vision devices, training in the use of these devices/aids, low vision counselling and public education.

The centre will also provide counselling aimed at helping persons to adjust to sight loss. In addition, users will benefit from assessment, diagnosis and treatment of non-surgical eye disorders; screening for vision problems; prescribing and dispensing low cost glasses.

The Ministry of Health, through the National Health Fund (NHF), also provided $7.6 million towards the construction of the Centre.

Other sponsors include: the European Commission; University of the West Indies (UWI) Medical and Dental Students Class of 2017; Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Jamaica Staff Association; CIBC First Caribbean International Bank; Coalition Association of Jamaica; Supreme Ventures; Grace Kennedy Foundation; Digital Foundation; and JETS.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that there are 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide. In Jamaica, approximately 100,000 adults are visually impaired.

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