Opening a world of sound for visually impaired children in Belize
This year, ETOW had the pleasure of working directly with the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired (BCVI) to bring our self-powered word band radios to the homes of children who are visually impaired. Staff of the BCVI personally introduced us to a number of the visually impaired children with whom they work, as well as their families, who live in very rural areas of northern Belize as well as within densely-populated Belize City. The children were presented radios by ETOW's director, Thomas Witherspoon, and team members of the BCVI, for use in their homes. Many of these homes lack reliable electricity, thus our radios play an important role for continued, renewable information and education.
Radio opens a world to all of our recipients, but to those who are visually impaired, this can be even more dramatic. Unlike the internet, which requires expensive translation software, radio content is designed to be heard, rather than watched or read--for those to whom sound and touch is their means of experiencing the world, radio is truly the perfect learning medium.
These children were no exception: Witherspoon says he was impressed by their instinctive aptitude for understanding radio, considering that many had never had a radio of their own or even tuned a radio prior to our visit. Smiles brightened their faces as they touched, tuned, and heard the diverse music and voices emanating from their radios. Said Witherspoon, "These children really responded to the radios, and I knew that it wouldn't be long before they know the frequency bands by heart. I felt humbled and privileged," Witherspoon added,"to introduce the world of radio to these incredible young people."
We would like to thank our partner, the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired, for helping us open the door to their clients. We were most impressed with the BCVI's holistic approach to helping children through continued, routine contact with both them and their families. Their educational and medical services are a benchmark for other organizations. We look forward to our continued partnership and long-term support through the BCVI.