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Year : 1982  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 299-301

Rural reintegration of blind into the family and community

Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh, India

Correspondence Address:
I S Jain
Department of Ophthalmology, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh-160012
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 7166409

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How to cite this article:
Jain I S, Sandhu H S. Rural reintegration of blind into the family and community. Indian J Ophthalmol 1982;30:299-301

How to cite this URL:
Jain I S, Sandhu H S. Rural reintegration of blind into the family and community. Indian J Ophthalmol [serial online] 1982 [cited 2023 Feb 4];30:299-301. Available from: https://www.ijo.in/text.asp?1982/30/4/299/29455

Rural reintegration is a new chapter added to the history of blind welfare in India it is a unique and new procedure to meet the challenge of rehabilitating of millions of rural blind in our country.

The recent surveys conducted by us on "Blindness and ocular morbidity" in rural blocks of Punjab and Haryana revealed that the prevalence of economic blindness is 3.2% among masses. 69.69' / ' o of this blindness is curable and 30.31 % incurable.

It is estimated that 45 million people are suffering from visual impairment and there are about 15 million blind in the country and 5 million are incurable. According to our recent surveys in Punjab and Haryana states the total number of blind is 7,50,212 out of which 5,22,335 are curable and 2,27,877 are incurable blind.

The Ophthalmology Department of Post­graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, a few years ago carried out initial work on rural reintegration of blind into the family and community in villages to Punjab. The experience so gained showed this is the least expensive and more useful programme of rehabilitation in rural areas. By conservative estimates, 75 percent of the total population lives in rural areas. Thus it stands to reason that a comparative percentage of the bilnd people in the country also resides in rural areas. This vast majority of the visually handicapped has little chance of being inclu­ded in the schemes which provide the speciali­sed services required by the blind individuals since the existing services and programmes are almost always located in the cities, towns and large urban centres. Most of these urban programmes are imitation of rehabilitation services found in the developed countries, they fail to meet the needs of the Indian rural villagers.

Our initial efforts indicate that the reha­bilitation of the blind in their own surround­ings is an economically valid service to the blind and community. It is a miracle that blind people found in a very isolated, neglec­ted state, frustrated by family and community attitude once are respected after receiving training because of their contribution to the family welfare and income. The blind after rural reintegration training adequately illustrate the psychological, economic and social changes which occur in their life. There could be nothing more satisfying to the con­cerned government and agency conducting this programme than being responsible for impro­ving the moral and living conditions of this foresaken community.

There are an estimated 5 million incurable blinds in India. It is inconceivable to create new facilities similar to the schools for the blind and rehabilitation centres now operating for such a large number of blind people. Training in the existing facilities for the blind is not the solution, as at least, they could accommodate only a limited number of blind students at any given time and this would hardly touch the fringe of the problem. More­over, the training imparted in the schools does not help in the proper adjustment of the rural blind in the family and community. To complicate the problem, the rural as well as urban masses are not enthusiastic about the rehabilitation training of sightless individuals. The blind children are not being sent to the institutions designed for them because of poverty, fear and social stigma, emotional attachment and the orthodox attitude of the people. The majority of the rural blind do not want to leave their homes and depart from their agricultural life style, usually, the vocational training provided in the urban based institutions does not prove very helpful when clients go back to the villages.

Our experience in the past few years in the field of rehabilitation of the blind, both in the rural and urban areas, indicated that the blind, his family and community would prefer that rehabilitation be carried out in their homes, villages and community that they are not isolated from the home and village environ­ment during training. Their training should lead to economic productivity in occupation which are known and familiar and were per­formed before becoming blind. Removing the blind from his home and village is not gene­rally acceptable. Any effort to assist the blind must meet this challenge. We assume comm­unity based services delivery is the answer and is the preferred method for rural blind.

In addition there is a need to include as part of general health programme in the rural areas, eye health and prevention of blindness services for all village people.

  Research and development methodology Top

The research and development project is designed to establish economically viable method of delivering basic rehabilitation services to blind persons in their own villages. It is expected that the project design will deve­lop suitable model for extending these reha­bilitation services in other states of India.

  Implementation Top

To start the work, generally three to four field workers from a community block are selected, who are residents of the area assig­ned to them and have knowledge of local language end socio-economic conditions. After training the field staff all the villages of different community blocks are equally divi­

ded among the field workers. The field workers travel by bicycle from village to village. Each field worker is generally entrusted with two or three visually handi­capped persons at a time for training.

The sequence of village activities performed by the field workers include

I. Survey

(a) Meet with key village authorities to gain their cooperation

(b) Conduct a house to house survey in se ected villages to locate blind persons. --Every person, regardless of age, is logged.

-Persons in need of medical eye care or who are blind are noted and recorded.

2. Eye health services

(a) Provide basic eye care.

(b) Refer cases with serious medical involvement.

-Survey report would be available to appropriate government authorities to help in preparing for mobile eye clinics and other medical interven­tions.

3. Interview and training plan

(a) Interview all blind villagers and members of their family.

(b) Make determination of the suitability for rehabilitation training.

4. Delivery of services

(a) Give training in any or all of the following skills.

-Orientation and mobility -Daily living

-Manual dexterity

-Vocational activities

-Counselling (client, family and community members)

-Social integration activities (family and community)

5. Follow up

Provide follow up services, when all training has been completed.

-Visit every two months to ensure that the client continues to use the training.

-Provide and offer continuing support.

-Follow up continues for one year­longer, if required.

During the past several years, we have successfully located about 32,00 clients in the various community blocks in Punjab and gave them training in rural reintegration at a very nominal cost. Our efforts are just a drop in the ocean. Considering the magnitude of the problem, nevertheless, it would be unfortu­nate if even these meagre efforts are not con­tinued to bring relief to the handicapped per­sons and demonstrate to neighbouring states what can be accomplished in pursuance of National Policy for Rehabilitation of Blind specially in rural areas.


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