The Malaysian National Eye Survey in 1996 estimated that 54,000 Malaysians experienced bilateral blindness. The most recent survey in 2018 reports that 86.3% of blindness causation was preventable with timely treatment. The Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) is a nonprofit organization working on the issue. By providing health services and employment opportunities, MAB improves visual health in Malaysia and supports those with visual impairment. Founded in 1951, MAB’s mission statement explicitly focuses on blindness prevention and empowering those with visual impairment through services and opportunities that include them in society.
The Gurney Training Center for the Blind
The Gurney Training Center for the Blind is MAB’s vocational training school for those with visual impairment. This center provides both vocational training and rehabilitation services. The center’s vocational courses allow people with visual impairment to receive proper training in a field. Some of the vocational training courses include skills such as woodworking, massage therapy, telephony, industrial work and computer programming. The center also offers rehabilitation services, including physical therapy, counseling, casework, mobility training, communication and social skills, and recreational activities.
Taman Harapan Agricultural Training Center
The Taman Harapan Agricultural Training Center teaches skills for various farming and breeding methods. Other related courses offered include ones such as horticulture and craft making. Like Gurney’s, the center also provides rehabilitation services such as techniques for daily living.
MAB also provides training in how to use assistive devices and software. Additional services include the repair and replacement of this adaptive equipment. The organization also advocates for those with visual impairment by prompting employers and policymakers to provide Information and Communication Technologies facilities (computer labs, laptops, tablets, etc.) in the workplace.
MAB provides a job placement program to help its clients find stable work and improve the economic mobility of Malaysian people with visual impairment. MAB provides work placement by offering different resources, such as placing trained individuals into appropriate employment opportunities, helping with loans for assistive equipment needed for jobs, and working with the Department of Social Welfare and the Ministry of Human Resources to address employment matters.
Assistance to Blind Children Centers (ABC)
ABC Centers are several early intervention programs that provide essential services to children with visual impairment. These children are provided with physical training, basic living skills, preschool activities, recreational activities and counseling services. This center also aids parents by providing services such as education and counseling on visual impairment.
Safety while riding public transportation is a recurring issue for people with visual impairment. In a broad collaboration with several government ministries, Nongovernmental Organizations and MAB, the Mass Rapid Transit Corporation in Malaysia installed directional tactile tiles on the Putrajaya MRT Line. These tiles give tactile feedback to commuters along the most efficient path from the entry point to the rail platform. The tiles also help indicate where an elevator or escalator is.
MAB improves visual health in Malaysia by promoting such inclusive designs and providing various services. With more efforts like MAB’s, people with visual impairment in Malaysia can integrate into a more inclusive society with improved opportunities for economic mobility.
– Max Cole